Thousands of Americans die from cardiac arrest, an aburpt stoppage of the heart. And chances of survival drops if it happens outside of a hospital and without quick CPR intervention.
A sudden, life-threatening medical emergency can be incredibly frightening and dangerous. But knowing a simple technique can ensure you do your part to save the life of someone who might experience one – CPR.
Some cases, like that of John Ginino, occur suddenly and often without warning. For him, it was at a Chicago Cubs home game.
“It was a normal day, just like any other,” Ginino says. “I was at the game with a friend when I suddenly passed out. My friend was trying to get help when he got the attention of another spectator at the game.”
EMS professional and nearby fan Leonel Andrade was quick to spring into action. He performed CPR on the unconscious Ginino until paramedics arrived and brought him to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center.
“CPR is the first step to saving someone’s life after calling 911,” Andrade says. “The sooner it starts, the better, but luckily, it’s a skill everyone can easily learn. You never know who might be sitting next to you and when someone might need your help.”
After he was stabilized in the hospital’s intensive care unit, he met with cardiologist Dr. Peter Brady, who diagnosed John with a serious and life-threatening heart arrhythmia, a condition which has a high chance of reoccurrence.
“We soon pieced together what happened – in John’s case, his heart rate was incredibly fast,” Dr. Brady says. “It is not an untypical story, though he is relatively young with no other health problems that would cause the cardiac arrest.”
Ginino’s care team implanted a defibrillator device to greatly reduce the likelihood of another cardiac arrest. Now, with ongoing monitoring, he is on his way to a healthier place, Dr. Brady says. Ginino is taking steps to improve his health and has become close friends with his savior Andrade, even spending the Thanksgiving holiday and going to a Cubs game together.
“Leo was just another person – he was there with his kid, his family,” Ginino says. “He didn’t have to act, but I’m alive because he was trained to help – and he did.”
But had John not gotten that crucial immediate CPR intervention, it may have had a different outcome.
“CPR is such a crucial life-saving skill,” says Dr. Brady. “In the event of a cardiac arrest, CPR keeps blood flowing to the brain and other organs until paramedics can respond, care for them and transport the individual to a hospital.”
If you’re untrained in performing CPR, you can provide hands-only CPR by placing one hand over the over in the middle of the person’s chest. Using your body weight, you can perform hands-only chest compressions of 100-120 compressions a minute until EMS arrives.
“Every single person has the ability to save a life, and CPR doesn’t require a medical degree,” Dr. Brady says. “Some basic information and training could make the difference between someone dying and someone making it to a hospital in time.”