HIBBING — What do you think of when you see the word “heart?”

Love and strength? Little red Valentine emoticons?

“Barracuda?”

Or is the quiet muscle that keeps us alive, one beat at a time?

Either way, what most of us don’t think about when we see the word “heart” is death.

Each year, 600,000 people die from a heart attack, making it the leading cause of death in the United States.

But with an increased awareness of the seriousness of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) and training on the basics of what to do if someone is having a heart attack, many believe we can reduce that number.

With that goal in mind, Essentia Health is encouraging its employees and the public to help fight SCA by signing a petition to “Start the Beat.” The petition is asking the White House to begin a national campaign to bring awareness to the serious public health problem of sudden cardiac arrest.

“I am asking my colleagues and the public to join me in signing the current petition requesting a national campaign to raise awareness of sudden cardiac arrest,” said Dr. Peter Henry, Essentia’s chief medical officer, in a release. “Training in CPR, AED use and recognizing the signs of a heart attack will save lives.”

The goal is to improve SCA survival rates nationwide. Currently, SCA survival rates are only 6-percent nationwide. SCA kills more Americans than lung cancer, breast cancer and HIV/AIDS combined.

Research has shown that early cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and automated external defibrillator (AED) use can significantly improve survival, but we often are reluctant to act in those situations, mostly, because we don’t know what to do.

Many are familiar with the “Stop, drop and roll” campaign. That lesson were taught in our early school years, and continues to be taught to children.

Less well-known, but just as effective, the “Stop the bleed” campaign has taught thousands how to stop blood loss when someone has been injured.

Both these campaigns have increased training and saved lives in moments where awareness of what to do and the skills to do it can make the difference between life and death.

A national “Start the Beat” campaign would promote bystander action and increase awareness of AED locations and the use of AEDs, along with early CPR.

Dr. Michelle Oman, chief medical officer at Essentia health in Virginia, spoke to the importance of this campaign.

“Recognizing the signs of a heart attack and training people to be knowledgeable and able to react with CPR and AED use will save lives,” she said. “Signing the petition for the national campaign on ‘Start the Beat’ is one I would ask all of my colleagues and the public to support.”

•••

Heart attack symptoms:

• Chest pain or discomfort in your chest

• Pain or discomfort in the upper body. This includes your arms, left shoulder, back, neck, jaw or stomach

• Trouble breathing or shortness of breath

• A feeling of fullness, indigestion or choking

• Sweating, nausea or vomiting

• Feeling light-headed or dizzy

• Extreme weakness or feeling very anxious

• Fast or uneven heartbeats

• Women are more likely than men to feel symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, back or jaw pain.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, call 9-1-1.

Source: Essentia Health

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