MANILA -- With cardiovascular diseases as the leading cause of death in the country, it would be no surprise that cardiac arrest is the predominant mode of death among Filipinos with heart problems.
According to the latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, about 74,134 cases of the total 582,183 deaths in 2016 were caused by cardiovascular or heart disease. The figure is equivalent to 12.7 percent, making it the top killer disease among Filipino men and women.
Cardiac arrest, sudden heart stoppage
Cardiac arrest is often likened to a thief as it happens without warning - it can happen at any time, to anyone, anywhere. And, while it is commonly caused by a pre-existing heart condition, it may strike people with no history of heart problems or symptoms.
During a cardiac arrest, the heart fails to pump blood and oxygen to the brain and the whole body.
"Nangyayari po ito sa labas ng ospital. Malimit po nangyayari ito sa mga pampublikong lugar (It happens outside the hospital. It usually happens in public places)," Philippine Heart Association (PHA) president Dr. Nannette Rey said in a recent health forum.
Rey cited the case of ex-basketball player Samboy Lim who had a cardiac arrest during an exhibition game at the Ynares Stadium in Antipolo City in 2014.
"Samboy Lim is not the Samboy Lim we used to know, he survived the full (cardiac) arrest but he had a permanent brain damage. Nobody in the stadium knew how to do the CPR (cardio pulmonary resuscitation) and it took them more than 20 minutes to bring him to the Medical City," she said.
She added the life of someone who has a sudden cardiac arrest is dependent on the CPR skills of those present.
CPR: A basic life support
CPR must begin within the four to six minutes when the arrest started while advanced life support measures must begin within 8 minutes to avoid brain death.
Rey said Lim's case prompted PHA to promote the knowledge of CPR in the country.
"We've been campaigning for this one with the help of some officials and this had been passed into a law in 2016 that everybody all K-12 students should learn how to do hands only CPR," she said.
Republic Act Number 10871 or Basic Life Support Training in Schools Act requires all basic education students to undergo age-appropriate training in basic life support.
However, students suffering from any physical or mental disability are exempted from the training as they may be unable to perform a basic life support procedure.
The law also requires school principals or administrators to coordinate with the Department of Health (DOH) for its assistance in providing competent instructors for the school’s basic life support education training program.
The DOH is mandated to accredit non-government organizations (NGOs) competent to provide basic life support instructions.
Dr. Francis Lavapie, PHA Council on Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation chairman, said there are three C's, which must be done when a person loses consciousness or experiences possible cardiac arrest -- check the scene and responsiveness of the victim, call for help, and compress or perform hands only CPR.
"Ang hands only CPR ay sapat nang makapagligtas ng buhay kahit wala nang mouth to mouth resuscitation dahil mayroong mga pag-aaral na maiiwasan nito ang pagkalat ng anumang (The hands only CPR is enough to save lives even though there's no mouth to mouth resusciation because there are studies that this could prevent the spread of) contagious diseases," he said.
Lavapie said it is important to perform the CPR properly and the following steps will help someone to perform this:
First, place the heel of one hand over the center of the person's chest. Then, put your other hand on top of your hand. Keeping your elbows straight, position your shoulders directly above your hands before you do the push or compression.
Second, perform 100 to 120 compressions per minute. Make sure that each compression is two inches at the least.
"Kailangan po ito ay mabilis sapagkat ibinibalik natin ang rhythm ng heart beat. Para hindi mawala sa rhythm, pwede ninyong isipin ang kantang "staying alive, staying alive, ha ha ha staying alive" kasabay ng pagdiin sa dibdib ng nag-cardiac arrest (This must be done quickly because we're trying to get back the heart beat rhythm.
To keep the rhythm, you can think of the "staying alive, staying alive, ha ha ha staying alive" as you perform compressions on the person having cardiac arrest)," Lavapie said.
He said one must continue doing the CPR until the patient or victim is brought back to life or until the rescue team arrives.
In July 2018, the DOH launched its hands only CPR program which aims to educate people on what must be done in case of disasters, emergencies or life and death situations.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said it can increase the survival rate of those who lost consciousness or had cardiac arrest by 50 percent. (PNA)