Self-CPR and other tips


Countless lives around the world have been saved by CPR (Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation). Accounts by locals on this remote Alubihod beach resort in Guimaras Island (across Iloilo), where we were as of this writing, revealed they have witnessed CPR performed on a drowning victim a couple of times in the past several years. Actually, you can even save your own with self-CPR.

Yes, you can actually perform CPR on yourself, when your heart falters (giving you a most uncomfortable panicky feeling, irregular rhythm, with or without chest pains, and a sensation of impending doom), anywhere you are, especially when you are alone or driving, and save a life (your own) and prevent a crash that might kill other people too.

The physiologic mechanics: The heart is in between the left and right lungs, framed by the vertebrae (spine) behind and the sternum (breastbone) in front. When the lungs expand, like when you take a real deep breath, the distended lungs will not only provide oxygen to your blood but also squeeze on your heart. This helps in the faster flow of blood out of the heart, easing the workload of your ticker.

In standard CPR performed by any trained person, mouth to mouth resuscitation is done, precisely to fill the lungs with air (oxygen), which also squeezes the heart. At the same time, cardiac massage (pumping down on the sternum (chest) aimed at squeezing the heart) is performed. Self-Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (SCPR) is a vital option when one is alone, as an instant first-aid measure, when faced with a situation that calls for it.

The technique: The first thing to do immediately, when the symptoms start, is to take repeated deep breaths, and coughing real hard between each breath. If the heart irregularity and uncomfortable feeling continue after 10 series of deep breaths and hard coughing, hitting the chest moderately hard with a clenched fist might help.  The coughing and deep breaths must continue as the person drives to the nearest hospital emergency room or physician’s office. The disappearance of the symptoms as a response to the SCPR still requires the need for immediate medical consultation.

Clinical observation shows that when one is alone doing chest compression during a standard CPR on a person who had cardiac arrest, the chest compression alone appears to be effective enough even without the mouth-to-mouth component. This is a relatively recent finding. But if mouth to mouth could also be performed, it should be done.

Our entire school system, starting from the elementary school to colleges and universities, would do humanity a great service if a course in CPR and SCPR is made mandatory at every level of its curricula every couple of years.

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If the ambient air is too dry, whether you are in a desert, in a room with a heater during winter, or on board an airplane (where the air is very dry), you can devise your personal “humidifier” by soaking a face towel and putting it against your nose. This will provide moisture to the air you breathe in. The same improvisation and/or wet towels in strategic areas will help humidify any dry room. Running the shower will also do it but that is terribly wasteful and expensive and is not eco-friendly.

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Large paper clips will serve well as collar stays when one forgets to bring them on a trip. Or, making collar stays with a piece of hard plastic or cardboard. A small safety pin or large needle could be used (instead of the special gadget) in extracting your cellphone sim card.

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Sticking a bright colored emblem of any kind (mine is a red heart) on your credit card is a way of identifying your card at a distance, when you hand it over to a sales clerk at any store, and makes it a lot easier for you to “detect” when you are given back another card, by mistake or intentionally, which has happened.

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One of the best ways to prevent viruses from attacking your computer (on top of your anti-virus software) is by not opening any emails you receive from someone you do not know and trashing them immediately. If needed, you could retrieve them from the trash bin, which holds them for 30 days prior to final deletion. Even if the email comes from a person you know, its attachment, if any, must be tagged or designated “virus free.” The spam mail eliminator is not enough. Common sense and vigilance do a lot more in protecting your computer and all valuable data on it. Disciplining yourself to adhere to this practice religiously will severely minimize, if not avoid, virus infestation and computer crashes, loss of priceless data, inconvenience, and avoidable expenses.

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Handling money, touching stair or escalator hand rails and door knobs in public places, or even handshakes (especially with one with a cold) expose one to a lot of viruses and or bacteria, and potential illnesses.

Imagine that thousands of people of various personal habits have touched those paper bills, coins, handrails, and door knobs, conceivably many of them with poor hygiene. Washing your hands at least eight times a day is more of a rule than an exception if one has to prevent bug contamination and upper respiratory or gastrointestinal infections. The use of alcohol “wipes” or gel also helps. Anti-bacterial (antibiotic) hand wash preparations are discouraged for fear of inducing a bacterial resistance to the antibiotic.

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Interested in antioxidants for better health? Vegetables and fresh fruits, in general, are the best natural sources, compared to the very expensive pills, potion and lotion in the market, advertised as antioxidants. The pill version is processed and sometimes contains chemicals with adverse side-effects.

Antioxidant score:  ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) measures the antioxidant units available to reduce harmful oxygen free radicals.

As far as fruits are concerned, according to the United States Department of Agriculture and Brunswick  Laboratories, the following are the ORAC score (per 100 Grams) of the following fruits: Bananas – 879;  Plums – 7291; Oranges – 1814; Blueberries – 9019; Apples – 3253;  Cranberries – 9456; and, Cherries – 3361.

Sunsweet, a company popular for its preserved fruits in the United States, came out with what it calls Antioxidant Blend, a dried fruit variety combo, which includes blueberries, cherries, cranberries and plums. One fourth cup serving (40 Grams) contain 90 calories. In Asia, the popular “licorice” flavor fruit preserve “Dikyam” is made from plums.

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To those who love water sports, carrying an intact plastic garbage bag, might be life-saving, even for a good swimmer. Experts have reported cases of leg cramps among some who did not bother to wear a life vest, who were saved by a plastic bag they inflated, aiding in their buoyancy and ability to stay afloat longer, giving them the critical time for recovery from the debilitating cramps. Obviously, wearing an appropriate life vest is a must for the “seafarers” amongst us, especially for the occasional beachcombers.

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Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus in Northwest Indiana and chairman of cardiac surgery from 1997 to 2010 at Cebu Doctors University Hospital, where he holds the title of Physician Emeritus in Surgery, is based in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, the Philippine College of Surgeons, and the Denton A. Cooley Cardiovascular Surgical Society. He is the chairman of the Filipino United Network – USA,  a 501(c)(3) humanitarian foundation in the United States. Email: scalpelpen@gmail.com

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