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Sudden Cardiac Arrest: Running Away from the Risks

Published on 15th August 2017

When many people think about defibrillators, they think of heart attack patients, yet defibrillators are actually used for patients who are suffering from cardiac arrest. Cardiac arrest is when your heart stops pumping blood around your body. This can be as a result of a heart attack, yet is more often unexpected in the form of Sudden Cardiac Arrest, or SCA. SCA is an arrhythmia, an abnormal heartbeat- which causes the heart’s normal rhythm to suddenly become chaotic. The heart can no longer pump oxygenated blood effectively around the body and the victim collapses, becomes unresponsive, and stops breathing. Sudden Cardiac Arrest accounts for around half of all heart disease fatalities.

Sometimes, SCA is down to an anomaly in the body which is unpredictable, therefore untreatable, but more often, specific diseases and conditions are the cause of SCA, for example, coronary heart disease, severe stress and hypertension. We all know that the key to staving off any illness is keeping physically fit through exercise and a healthy diet, yet many of us still continue to put our lives at risk by consuming artery blocking fats, smoking and not getting our bodies moving.

Prevention is Better than Cure

Exercise is like marmite – you either love it with a passion, or loath even the idea of it but like it or not, it is an essential part of keeping your heart healthy. Many people find the idea of gyms intimidating and often, gym activities are solo activities where there is little to no engagement with others, making the experience even more isolating. Some are fine with exercising alone, but for those new to the concept, or for the shyer amongst us, the idea of even walking into somewhere filled with fit and ‘slim’ people can be so daunting that it prevents us from doing it in the first place.

Parkrun is an organisation who offer free weekly timed runs in countries around the world, from Sweden to Singapore, all with the aim of helping to make exercise more accessible and inclusive for all. Parkrun is solely run by volunteers who organise 5k (5000m) running events in public parks. They are free events, open to everyone of all ages and abilities and can provide a great way of taking some exercise in a friendly group environment with absolutely no pressure to performThere are 466 locations across the UK, with over 1.3 million participants, proving that there will be runners of all abilities at your local club. You can find out more about your local parkrun club here.

In March, parkrun launched an appeal with the vision that 100% of parkruns would have an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) by the end of 2017. In the event of sudden cardiac arrest, survival rates can be as high as 60% if an AED is used within the first three to five minutes. If paramedics are relied upon to administer the first defibrillator shock, survival rates drop to around 6% because of the time it takes for an ambulance to arrive.

Last week, we were happy to announce that Micelle Ashwell was the lucky winner of our ‘Win a Defib’ competition where Michelle decided to donate her lifesaving LIFELINE AED to the Leavesden Juniors parkrun.

The LIFELINE Automated External Defibrillator is a semi-automatic defibrillator which weighs just 1.9kg. It has been proved to be one of the easiest to operate AEDs on the market for untrained users. The LIFELINE range includes fully automatic models with the option of including an ECG monitor. An ECG monitor allows you to monitor the electrical signals as they move through the heart – it’s gentle on the skin and non- intrusive and can also be used to detect a problem before it escalates into SCA.

Cut Your Risks of SCA & Feel Better About Life in General

Running is great for us all, no matter our fitness level, age or physical condition. It flushes out toxins, strengthens your ligaments and can help to prevent heart disease. Running isn’t just good for your body, it’s also good for the soul. Spending time outdoors, especially if you spend most of your days inside, can lift your spirits and help relieve the stresses of the day.

Here are some tips for getting started:

• You only have to go as fast and as far as you are comfortable with. It can help to start over small distances and build up over time.

• Invest in some comfortable running shoes which suit your style of running and your body. This smart guide can help.

• Take someone with you. Running and/or walking can be more fun with company so drag your kids, partner, dog, friends out for a run. Time goes faster and sometime the distraction of conversation can help you go further than if you were alone.

• There’s no shame in walking some of the way! You are still getting valuable exercise and fresh air if you walk.

Whilst we aren’t saying that you will be immune to SCA if you run 5k a week and eat an insanely healthy diet, everything you can do to keep your heart healthy will make a difference. Running is a great way to socialise, lose weight and generally feel better about yourself and you don’t need any special equipment or money to be able to take part. What are you waiting for?

Want to win an AED for your club, village hall or place of work?

Sign up to our mailing list to get details of the next ‘Win a Defib’ competition.