Seven out of 10 out-of-hospital cardiac arrest happened at home — a scary reminder that it can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime.
Out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) is a leading cause of death in Singapore, which accounts for more than 2,000 deaths annually. Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart suddenly stops beating. Someone who suffers from sudden heart stop will suddenly lose consciousness and will stop breathing or stop breathing normally.
And it is not a problem exclusive to the aged population. Half of those who suffered from cardiac arrest were below 65 years old.
Unfortunately, most Singaporeans are not equipped with the knowledge and skills to respond to such situations.
In Singapore, the benchmark survival rate for cardiac arrest is about 11 per cent, which is low compared to cities such as Seattle, Tokyo or Seoul, where survival rates are up to 50 per cent.
The low percentage here is likely attributed to the fact that only about 10 per cent of the population are equipped with lifesaving skills like cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training, according to a2010 survey.
In Singapore, only four in 10 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests receive bystander CPR before paramedics arrive, compared to some countries such as Norway and Netherlands, where the rate is up to 80 per cent.
Time is of the essence during a cardiac arrest. After OHCA has occurred, the chances of survival decreases 7 to 10 per cent for every passing minute without chest compressions and defibrillation.
Knowing basic life-saving skills and responding early with chest compressions and the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED) Heart Restarter can greatly increase a person's chance of survival. Immediate application of chest compressions and an AED can lead to survival rates as high as 50 per cent.
So whether it is your loved ones, or anybody who needs immediate attention, it is best to be equipped to help in what could be a life-and-death situation.
Be a hero
The Restart-A-Heart awareness campaign was launched in July this year by Temasek Foundation Cares as part of its ‘Stay Prepared’ initiative supported by the Temasek Emergency Preparedness Fund.
The RestartAHeart programme aims to build a community of active first-responders and raise the bystander response rate in OHCA cases.
The easy-to-learn life-saving programme takes only an hour and is conducted by the Singapore Heart Foundation. It enables members of the public to learn the steps to perform chest compressions in the critical first minutes before the ambulance arrives.
Participants will be better equipped to perform continuous chest compressions as they will be taught to recognise the signs of a cardiac arrest, call 995 for assistance, and use an AED Heart Restarter if one is available.
Sign up for the 1-hour programme at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how to restart a heart, or visit www.myheart.org.sg to find out more.
This post is brought to you by Temasek Foundation Cares and Singapore Heart Foundation.