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Happy CPR/AED Awareness Week!

In December 2007, Congress designated the first week of June as a time for education and advocacy about sudden cardiac arrest. Nearly 400,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur every year, and 88% of them occur inside the home.  But while CPR can double or triple the chance of surviving sudden cardiac arrest, only about a third of victims receive CPR. So if someone in every household learned CPR this week, we would save some lives.

People are often surprised to learn that the American Heart Association and the American Red Cross now support “hands-only” CPR, which does not involve mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. You can learn everything you need to know at www.handsonlycpr.org. As the school year is coming to an end, it’s also a good time to find out whether your children’s schools have AED’s available and accessible.  Prompt use of a defibrillator provides the best opportunity to help someone suffering from a cardiac arrest.

And while you’re getting inspired to save a life, you might also want to check out a community of heart disease survivors who are fighting their heart disease head on. Iron Heart Racing is (from their website) a community of “everyday athletes on a mission. It’s quite simple: Compete in endurance races across the globe while raising awareness for healthy heart living and congenital heart disease.”  I think they have the potential to do for the community of people living with heart disease what Livestrong has done for cancer awareness and research.

But read further and you’ll realize that in addition to sponsoring running events and raising money for cardiac charities, the Iron Heart Foundation is also taking things to the next level – the Iron level – by creating a documentary about eight “cardiathletes” who have all undergone heart surgery, and are now taking on an Ironman Triathlon. Their hope is to raise awareness about heart disease and try to convince people living with it that, in many cases, they can still dream big under proper medical supervision. As a cardiologist, I see the benefits of cardiac rehabilitation in people who have undergone surgery, but I’m also curious to learn more about these extreme athletes and their journeys, as well as the doctors who are helping them to be hopefully safe along the way.

Check out the preview for Flat Line to Finish Line and let me know what you think.  I know I will definitely be watching. All 140 miles…

Photo: iStockphoto

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