This week, I asked two good friends three very important questions with regard to cardiac emergencies. I asked them what the phrase “cardiopulmonary resuscitation” meant to them, what they thought “MI” meant, and what they thought took place during CPR. The first friend I asked is a direct assistant to CEOs at hospitals and the other is a lead mechanic at a high end automotive dealership. When I heard the answers of my friends, I was surprised at who of the two knew the most about all three questions.
As stated in the previous paragraph, the first friend I asked works as the direct assistant to a hospital CEO that presides over several large hospitals in the area that she lives in. She said that cardiopulmonary arrest is “like a heart attack. The heart arrests (and) you cannot breathe.” She didn’t know what “MI” meant, but guessed that is was “muscular something.” Lastly, what she though took place during CPR was “manual pumping of the heart.” So it’s fairly apparent that, despite working in hospitals, she only has a vague and generalized idea of these cardiac emergencies.
The second friend I had spoken to, the general mechanic (who has worked as a mechanic for approximately 30 years), seemed to have a better idea of what goes on during these cardiac emergencies. He said that during cardiopulmonary arrest, “for some reason or another, the heart muscles do not continue their regular operation. I think the cause is flexible. Lack of blood supply, lack of nerve input, whatever.” While he didn’t know what the acronym “MI” stood for, he had a very good idea of what it represented: “Does it mean actual heart muscle damage from lack of blood supply?” His idea of what occurs during CPR is that it is “an effort by another person to rhythmically contract the chest, which should use the heart valves to continue to restore blood flow to vital organs until the heart receives enough blood to hopefully resume function.” Not totally correct, but his mind was in the right place.
After seeing these two vastly different responses to these three questions, it made me realize how great the knowledge deficit is with regard to cardiac emergencies. Additionally, it showed me that you can’t assume that someone will know more about cardiac emergencies just because they work in a hospital. I fully expected my friend that worked for the hospital CEO to know infinitely more about MI and CPR than my mechanic friend, but I was proved wrong quite quickly. It just goes to show that, despite the best efforts of public health and the American Heart Association to educate the general population about cardiac emergencies, there is still a lot of education to be distributed to raise awareness and hopefully save more lives in the future.