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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

CPR Saves Lives

By Veita Bland, M.D. / January 12, 2023

Learning Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) can save a loved one’s life.

America was in shock as Buffalo Bills football player Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest in a televised NFL game after a seemingly normal hit. The shock of seeing him fall down was terrifying and seen by millions of people coast to coast. The emotional reactions of his teammates and coaches embraced the seriousness of this event as they were understandably upset, worried and praying for his recovery.

The quick work of the athletic trainers and medical personnel at the scene saved Hamlin’s life. The most important thing that was done was the quick initiation of CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation). CPR has been around since the 1700’s and has been used to save many lives.

CPR is an emergency procedure consisting of chest compressions and sometimes will include breathing into the mouth and nose of the affected person. Effective compressions to the chest have been the standard since 2008. The purpose of the compressions is to keep the blood moving through the body thus hopefully giving life affirming oxygen to the brain, heart and other vital organs until medical personal can arrive and take over.

Hamlin was surrounded by people who knew what to do. What would be your response if someone had a cardiac arrest right in front of you? Would you first recognize that an emergency was at hand? Would you know what to do? Would you be willing to get involved?

383,000 Americans have cardiac arrest each and every year. The majority of these happen outside of medical facilities and a majority of these people do not survive. The American Heart Association (AHA) says 88 percent of these events happen in the home.

Surveys show that a majority of Americans do not know the difference between a heart attack and a cardiac arrest and thus do not know what the proper response should be.

A sudden cardiac arrest happens when the electrical impulses in the heart become rapid or chaotic which causes the heart to stop beating suddenly. A heart attack happens when the blood supply to part of the heart muscle is blocked. A heart attack may cause a cardiac arrest.

The AHA website states that four out of five cardiac arrests happen at home. African Americans are almost twice as likely to experience cardiac arrest at home, work or in another public place as are Caucasians. African Americans survival rate is twice as poor as Caucasians.

Only 8 percent of people who have cardiac arrest outside of the hospital will survive. Failure to recognize there is a problem and the willingness to do something about the problem results in lost lives. Now is the time to contact AHA and learn to do CPR. Their compression only method has been their standard since 2008. The life you save may be a loved one. This is a skill that everyone should learn.

Dr. Veita Bland is a board-certified Greensboro physician and hypertension specialist. Dr. Bland’s radio show, “It’s a Matter of Your Health,” can be heard live on Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. on N.C. A&T State University’s WNAA, 90.1 FM. Listeners may call in and ask questions. The show is replayed on Sirius 142 at 5 p.m. on Wed. Email Dr. Bland at


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Since 1967, the Carolina Peacemaker has served as North Carolina’s leading news weekly with a national reputation. Founded by Dr. John Kilimanjaro, the newspaper is published by Carolina Newspaper, Inc.

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