James Gregg says he’s alive today because his neighbor knew how to perform CPR. Gregg knows he’s one of the lucky ones to survive a heart attack. According to the American Heart Association, 95% of people who suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrests die. These people are often surrounded by people who do not know the simple steps of CPR. June 1 – 7 is National CPR and automated external defibrillator (AED) Awareness Week, an effort to decrease the number of people who don’t know how to act in a critical situation.

            Gregg’s neighbor and volunteer fireman in Sturgis, Jeff Walsh, came to his rescue when he went into cardiac arrest at home in December of last year.

            “I was at home with my son when I went into cardiac arrest. I’m thankful he was there to get our neighbor, Jeff, who started CPR within five minutes. That’s the reason I don’t have brain damage, and also the reason I’m alive today,” said Gregg.

            OCH Cardiac Rehab Director Liz Varco, RN, said it’s critical for CPR to be administered within four to six minutes after a person goes into cardiac arrest in order to minimize brain damage.

            “After that crucial time, patients begin to develop organ damage.   Performing CPR immediately allows patients who do survive a heart attack a much better quality of life,” Varco said, adding that it’s also important to dial 911 as soon as possible. “Defibrillation (an electric shock to the heart) can only be done by medical personnel, and that should be performed immediately, as well,” Varco added.

            This June, in honor of National CPR Week, the American Heart Association is calling on all Americans to learn how to give Hands-Only CPR. Performing Hands-Only CPR has just two simple steps. The first step is to call 9-1-1, and then immediately push hard and fast to the center of the chest to the beat of disco-pop song “Stayin’ Alive.”

            “We’re pleased to support the American Heart Association and its important mission to increase survival from cardiac arrest. The most important part of CPR is providing the chest compressions to the patient, so the “Hands-Only” approach is a simple way for everyone to be prepared in an emergency,” said OCH Infection Control Director and Certified CPR Instructor Kim Roberts, RN, CHES. “Statistics show that most cardiac arrests happen at home, so being prepared to perform CPR could mean saving the life of someone you love,” Roberts added.

            Since his cardiac arrest, Gregg has had a triple bypass surgery and a single bypass surgery, as well as many months of cardiac rehab at OCH Regional Medical Center.

            “The cardiac rehab program at OCH has changed my life. They are serious about what they do, and they do it very well. More importantly, they’re like a support system, and I am so thankful for them,” Gregg said.

            During cardiac rehab, the status of the patient’s heart is constantly monitored by registered nurses while performing various exercises such as walking on a treadmill and lifting hand weights. In addition, program participants are educated about risk factors for cardiovascular disease and necessary lifestyle modifications such as smoking cessation, hypertension management, stress management, dietary guidelines and weight reduction.

            “I have been a registered nurse at OCH for 28 years and can personally tell you that not everyone has as positive of an outcome as Mr. Gregg did. He is living proof that performing CPR immediately after a cardiac arrest can save lives. CPR is so incredibly important, and it is 100% the reason that Mr. Gregg is alive and well today,” Varco says.

            To watch the Hands-Only CPR instructional video, visit heart.org/handsonlycpr. OCH Regional Medical Center is an authorized training center for the American Heart Association and offers classes in first aid and CPR/AED for healthcare providers, businesses, and the general public. Classes are offered on the first Monday of each month or by appointment. For more information, visit och.org and click on “Community Outreach,”, or call Roberts at 662-615-2820.

            For more information on the cardiac rehab program, visit och.org and look under “Our Services,” or call Varco at 662-615-2625.




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