Jamaica Information Service – Director at the Heart Foundation and Consultant Emergency Physician, Dr Hugh Wong, has appealed to Jamaicans to do something to help if someone is having a cardiac arrest.
“Don’t just stand by and look, do something to assist,” he urged, as he addressed a Jamaica Information Service ‘Think Tank’ recently.
“Oxygen-starved brain cells begin to die and the individual can expire within minutes unless a bystander renders assistance in the form of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR),” Dr. Wong said.
He said there are individuals who may decide, out of fear of doing harm, not to make an attempt to assist an individual who is unresponsive.
Dr. Wong pointed out that a few minutes could make the difference between life and death for someone whose heart has stopped.
During cardiac arrest, the heart stops sending blood to the body and brain, either because it is beating too fast and too erratically or because it has stopped beating altogether.
He added that there are individuals who may become fearful because they may not be trained, but further noted that the worst response would be to do nothing.
Doing chest compressions is an effective way of artificially pumping blood through the body while the heart has stopped functioning on its own.
“If you are able to continue blood flow to the brain for those critical few minutes until medical assistance can be had or the heart restarts, this is the best chance that the individual has of recovering,” Dr. Wong explained
He noted that there are times when assistance to the individual is delayed, and by the time he or she is revived, they are brain-dead because of the extended period of time that blood flow to the brain was cut off.
“This is why, in the moment, bystanders should try to do what they can. We encourage all individuals to get basic training, but it’s not advised for the untrained person to just allow someone to die when there is something that you can do to help. The truth is that the person is already in a position where they will certainly die without any assistance,” he said.