By: Dr. Eduardo Sanchez
If you knew you could save someone by learning something in just a few minutes, would you? If you knew your community wasn't getting the necessary help to save lives, would you want that changed?
Then, now is the time to step in.
When it comes to cardiac arrest (the medical term for when the heart suddenly stops beating) and the use of lifesaving cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), our Latino community is lagging behind. Hispanics and other minorities are 30 percent less likely to receive CPR from a bystander after suffering a cardiac arrest. Sometimes language gets in the way. Sometimes, it's fear of involvement, of disease or even hurting someone. But too often in communities of color it is because persons who live in the community have not received CPR instruction.
But now as we enter National CPR & AED Week on June 1-7, it's time for a change. Ya es hora de cambiar.
Each year, more than 326,000 cardiac arrests occur outside the hospital. Each of us, cada uno de nosotros, can save a life by initiating CPR as bystanders.
Every minute without CPR decreases a person's chance of survival by up to 10 percent. Because the longer the heart and brain go without oxygen, the less chance of surviving a cardiac arrest.
Nearly ninety percent of people who suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrests die. Immediate CPR can double or triple the likelihood of survival.
Roberto Del Valle, a bilingual CPR instructor in Los Angeles, has been teaching for more than 15 years and has seen how too many in the community can be hesitant to step in.
Del Valle is part of a series of videos the American Heart Association has created to dispel the myths of learning and giving CPR.
"The great majority of the community don't believe in CPR," Del Valle says in his video. "They know they need it, and they know it's good, but they don't believe in it. Maybe it's because they are afraid."
But CPR has changed and those old myths can be replaced by facts.
Saving a life can be as easy as committing a minute to watch a Hands-Only™ CPR instructional video and share it with the important people in your life. If you want to make a bigger commitment, find a CPR class near you.
Nationally, the Hands-Only CPR program is working with community partners to tailor messages and spread education about CPR. When it comes to language barriers, for instance, outreach workers are encouraging callers in the Latino community to begin their calls to 911 by saying "heart stopped and Spanish interpreter." The dispatchers knows right away the type of medical emergency and that they need language help.
The sad reality is seven out of ten cardiac arrests happen at home. Del Valle says, "You never know who's going to be the one who goes into cardiac arrest, who is going to be collapsing. Could be the baby, could be mom, could be grandpa, could be the father could be the brother. And who knows who is going to be there. So we all need to know [CPR]."
Dr. Eduardo Sanchez is chief medical officer for prevention at the American Heart Association.