Sunday, June 9, 2019

Richard Gomez Talks About His Advocacy on AED at the Philippine Heart Association's 50th Convention

Photo taken from Shutterstock

The Philippine Heart Association (PHA), during its recently concluded 50th Annual Scientific Meeting and Convention once again called on the government to increase awareness and training on cardiopulmonary resuscitation [hands only CPR] as well as the automated external defibrillator [AED] as a way to save the lives of persons with heart disease.

Mayor Gomez with the panel of doctors from the Philippine Heart Association during the Advocacy Hour held at the PHA 50th Convention.
 One challenge with saving victims of cardiac arrest is that there is often a lag before bystanders take action.

Photo from Shutterstock

Last Saturday, June 8, 2019, veteran actor Eddie Garcia was at taping when he suffered from a severe heart attack. He is still under critical observation and all his doctors are doing their best to assure he gets the best care possible. At 90 years old, he is still doing what he loves most, acting. He is a pillar of the entertainment industry and is very passionate about his craft. If there was someone who knew CPR and there was an AED machine, then maybe Garcia won't end up being in coma by this time. 

Veteran actor Eddie Garcia suffered from Heart Attack while working on the set

Prior to Garcia’s heart attack, during the PHA advocacy hour, it was mentioned by former actor and recently re-elected Ormoc City Mayor and AED advocate Richard Gomez how the entertainment industry also needed AEDs especially during long-night tapings and shootings. 

Mayor Gomez with Media men: Yugel Losorata, Ms. Leony Garcia, PHA Media officer Gynna Gagelonia and Moi

“Knowledge in CPR, accompanied by the use of AED will definitely increase the survival rate of persons experiencing a heart attack or stroke,” said Dr. Ronald Cuyco, chairperson of PHA advocacy campaign during the lay fora.

“If we institute the AED gadget on top of the CPR, it actually increases their survival rate to about 33 percent,” Cuyco said.

It had always been PHA’s initiative for the lay people as well as the policy makers to become familiar with the use of AEDs. They have drum up support for the immediate passage of House Bill 5327 or the “Act Requiring the Placement of Defibrillators in Public Places.”

Mayor Gomez with Media: Yugel Losorata, Ms. Leony Garcia, PHA Media officer Gynna Gagelonia and Moi

“Our goal is to see our country having that same number of AEDs in different buildings, high-traffic areas such as malls, airports, gyms, arenas the way they have it in other Asian countries like Japan,” said Gomez who’s a PHA AED advocacy ambassador.

He said performing CPR and administering the AED on a person suffering from cardiac arrest is vital while waiting for a professional medical intervention. He noted that the danger lies in the delay in the time of bringing the patient to the hospital before the emergency procedure is done.

“CPR is usually taken for granted, until it happens to your loved one. Kids as early or as young as 10, should know how to do CPR. People go out, when they take a vacation, people get drown and they don’t know what to do. People would just collapse in front of them, they lose their heartbeat and they don’t even know what to do. CPR is very important, para somehow, you can still save the life of your loved ones,” Gomez said.

"It is only befitting that we equip ourselves with basic knowledge in cardio-pulmonary resuscitation and basic knowledge on how to operate automated external defibrillator," he added.

“Ormoc City has been recognized as a CPR-ready city and hopefully we’d be able to spread it out in our future projects. The approach would be from small to big groups, intimate groups understanding what the program is all about, hanggang eventually mas marami na yung nakakaintindi, the learnings being passed on around.”

Legislation is also equally important. CPR should be an added legislation on using the AEDs in public places such as markets, conference halls, sports arena and hotels. I really think there should be an AED in every movie set as well. We’ve seen a lot of people who died and collapsed and because of too much stress and lack of sleep. One day, I hope it should be a mandatory in every film or movie set.

We require strong partnership with the different government agencies, legislators, policy makers, to help inculcate active lifestyle. In the whole spectrum of a heart disease.

Bataan was the 1st CPR Ready City followed by Ormoc in 2009 and then Vigan as CPR Ready Cities in the Philippines.
Gomez said in his own capacity that he will try to pursue the advocacies of the PHA like Sneakers Friday, 52100 and Fit Heart Minute. Gomez even said he might start by asking City Hall employees to walk their way up and down the three-storey stairs of their office building to make sure employees give their hearts the exercise they need.

Meanwhile, Dr. Israel Pargas, Senior Vice President Health Finance Policy Sector, Philhealth said that: He was so amused of the campaigns of PHA that he hopes the Philhealth also gets to adapt the following programs like Sneakers Friday, 52100 and Fit Heart Minute into their office.

During the lay fora, Pargas also shared the good news that Philhealth now have the standard primary care benefit package which now technically covers ECG, maintenance drugs and treatment for hypertension. 

Purple Plum Fairy during the PHA 50th Convention at the SMX Convention Center

As a blogger who was privileged enough to work with the Philippine Heart Association, I was able to learn a lot of things. First, a little lesson in heart ailment tells you that sudden cardiac arrest is not the same as a heart attack, that there often are no symptoms, and that it's not something that only affects mostly seniors, but can happen at any age.

Sudden cardiac arrest is one of the leading cause of death in the country , with nearly four out of five cases occurring outside a hospital. Bystanders–whether in a public gathering space such as an airport or shopping mall, or in a workplace–play an in important role in improving the chances of survival.

"In cardiac arrest, every minute counts. If you consider the time it takes for a medical responder to arrive versus a co-worker or bystander, it can mean the difference between life and death. Cardiac arrest is not the same as a heart attack, which occurs when the blood supply to part of the heart muscle is blocked. Cardiac arrest, which may be caused by a heart attack, occurs when the heart's normal rhythm is disrupted and cannot generate blood flow. Chest compressions administered through CPR can generate a small amount of blood flow to vital organs, but defibrillation by an automated external defibrillator is the only way to deliver the lifesaving shock to the heart, bringing it back into normal rhythm and restoring blood circulation.

Every minute of delay for defibrillator decreases the success of restarting the heart. Approximately 10 percent of people who experience an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survive, with survival significantly increased if a bystander quickly retrieves and employs an AED. Time is critical. The earlier a shock is delivered, the greater the chance the neurological damage can be prevented. Having an AED program in place can reduce the response time to an SCA victim by 3-5 minutes.

Every minute delay in shock delivery can decrease the chance of survival by up to 10 percent. Understanding the value of those few minutes is what Lawrence said is key to helping companies recognize the importance of having AEDs readily accessible in the workplace. Relying only on Emergency Medical Services means you could lose the precious time you may have to save a life.

Just like Mayor Gomez and the people behind the PHA, I strongly encourage companies, organizations as well as the government itself to implement AED programs to increase the chances of survival for people who have heart-related emergencies. With an AED program, an employee will be better prepared to save the life of a co-worker.

PHA staff at work: Ms. Irene Alejo, Ms. Audrey Cruz, Chacha Vasquez and Moi at the SMX Convention Center

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