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CPR education boosts heart attack survival rates

  • Published Friday, Oct. 25, 2013, at 7:46 p.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013, at 5:47 a.m.

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When 51-year-old James (Tony Soprano) Gandolfini suffered a heart attack while visiting Rome last summer, his chances for survival might have increased if it had happened on a movie set, where there’s often a medical staff trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

But unfortunately for millions of people around the globe and more than 360,000 North Americans every year who have “out-of-hospital cardiac arrests” or OHCAs, your average bystander isn’t prepared to administer CPR, and the chances of pulling through an on-the-street heart attack are not great. In Detroit, OHCAs have a 0.2 percent survival rate. In Seattle (the U.S. gold standard), survival rates still hit only 16 percent.

What improves survival rates, according to a Danish study, is a public education push that teaches how and when to do CPR, along with smarter medical-response procedures. Danish efforts have elevated their OHCA survival rate to an impressive 44 percent.

For you to help improve OHCA survival rates in North America, here are CPR basics:

• First, call 911; then start chest compressions. No need to do mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. It turns out hands-only CPR is the most effective technique for saving lives in real-life OHCA situations.

• Place one flat hand over the center of the victim’s chest and your other open hand on top of that. Press down hard (chest should depress 2 inches) for 100 beats a minute. If someone’s available, have that person count with you.

• Stick with it until help arrives, and ask someone else to relieve you if you get worn out.

Preschoolers nap to learn

Many adults confine their naps to boring or overly long movies in darkened theaters (last year’s “Lincoln” got some serious online buzz for its nap-worthiness) or when they dim the lights for that business presentation from the West Coast.

But preschoolers usually grab a cool 60 minutes or (much, much) more daily, and parents and teachers should be glad they do. Not only does it give Mom or Dad time to take care of other tasks or have downtime themselves, nap time is part of a young child’s learning process. It’s when their super-active brains consolidate newly acquired info and store it in memory.

What’s the typical “need to nap” for young children? Most kids take a morning and afternoon nap till around age 2; then they just want an afternoon snooze. By age 3, a quarter of kids have stopped napping altogether; from ages 3 to 4, about half will stop. And a final quarter of kids will nap until they are 5 or 6.

Unfortunately, some preschool program administrators want to eliminate naps for 3- to 5-year-olds. But skipping naps won’t make kids healthy, happy – or smart. So ask your child’s preschool about its napping policy. No nap? Find another facility, or convince yours of the importance of nap time. And make sure that if your child is 4 or older and still naps, your chosen facility will accommodate his or her schedule.

Ginger prevention

In 17th-century England, a pound of ginger could be traded for one healthy sheep. In fact, this gnarled, tangy spice has been valued as a seasoning and a medicine for thousands of years – it has even been Dr. Oz’s Herb of the Month. Currently, scientists are investigating whether it can help prevent colon and ovarian cancer. Plus it’s a must-have as you head into cold and flu season. Its other powers include:

• Calming nausea. As a tea or cooked into a congee (a therapeutic rice porridge) it can ease morning sickness, motion sickness and sluggish digestion. To make the tea: Cut 2 inches of cleaned and peeled ginger root into small pieces or thin slices; put in a pan with a few cups of water; boil for at least 10 minutes. Stir in lemon, mint or lime juice – add 1 teaspoon of honey if your taste buds require.

• Soothing sore joints and muscles. Ginger contains anti-inflammatories called gingerols that can ease the discomfort of osteo- or rheumatoid arthritis, sore muscles and even headaches. You can drink it as a tea or grate the root, wrap it in cheesecloth, place in hot water for 30 seconds, and when cool enough, apply directly to your achy areas for 20 minutes.

• Keeping your immune system strong. For a sore throat, sniffles or the flu, try a powdered ginger supplement; ask your doctor about taking 250 mg daily (it’s not for anyone on blood thinners). The max, according to the American Cancer Society, is 5 grams a day.

Fecal transplant pills

None of the gravity-defying balancing acts Ed Sullivan featured on his show (there were the Baronton Sisters, for example, who lay on their backs while spinning full-size tables with their feet) come close to the astounding balancing act that goes on 24/7 in your gut. There, trillions of bacteria work together to keep your immune and organ systems up and running.

But when those bacteria get out of balance, well, running is a good word to describe what may come next. One deadly infection associated with a disrupted gut biome is Clostridium difficile, or C. diff. Every year, half a million Americans suffer from the severe diarrhea it triggers, and about 14,000 die.

Recently, fecal transplants from a person with a healthy gut biome to the intestines of someone with C. diff have proved effective in controlling the disease. But there’s a huge ick factor for many folks. Well, now there may be a way around that – a side-effect-free gel capsule containing a huge variety of bacteria extracted from a healthy fecal sample.

Thirty-one of 32 folks who’d had repeated bouts of C. diff saw it go away after taking one round of pills containing fecal microbes. Interestingly, C. diff wasn’t eradicated; the balance of bacteria in their guts was restored so that the good guys controlled the bad.

If you have chronic intestinal distress, ask your doc about bacterial replenishment. And everyone can keep his or her guts well-balanced with a daily supplement of spore probiotics containing bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086 or lactobacillus GG.

Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic.

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