On-field heart attacks: teammates can save lives with CPR

New Delhi: The gut-wrenching sight of an athlete dying on field due to a heart attack can be avoided if teammates learn Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) when immediate medical assistance is not available.

In the space of one month, two international footballers suffered cardiac arrests on field of play.

While 25-year-old Italian footballer Piermario Morosini succumbed to the attack during an Italian second division match on April 14, Bolton Wanderers` midfielder Fabrice Muamba survived, thanks to the people who knew how to perform CPR after he collapsed during the FA Cup.

CPR is a technique used to manually circulate oxygenated blood supply to the heart and brain which extends the chance of reviving the victim.

CPR kept Muamba`s vital organs functioning, till he received definitive treatment at reaching the hospital, and was able make a recovery.

Even in India, 28-year-old football player, D Venkatesh died during a District football league match in Bangalore last month, which once again highlights the importance of learning the basic techniques of CPR and first aid skills which can help save a life in emergencies.

Former Indian captain Bhaichung Bhutia also feels that learning CPR can save many lives in emergency.

"It is very important for all sportspersons, not only footballers to be aware of basic life saving techniques like CPR. What happened to the Venkatesh was unfortunate," said the former skipper, who retired a few months back.

One of the companies which offers similar solutions on the growing health and safety needs is the Gurgaon-based VIVO Healthcare.

VIVO`s training programs focus on CPR and first Aid skills. Biggies like DLF, Genpact, KFC, Air France, Leela, Oberoi, BMW and Mahindra, are among the business houses, which have employed the services of VIVO to get their employees trained for some of the programs.

Bhutia feels even sportspersons should be introduced to such orientation course as it can help save lives on the field.

"Knowing these little things can always come in handy in case of an emergency at any point of time and not only while playing," he said.

"It will be good idea to have a short orientation course where CPR and basic first aid skills can be taught to footballers and sportspersons from other fields as we are always involved in some sort of strenuous activity while playing," he added.

The American Heart Association (AHA) states that CPR, if administered effectively by a bystander immediately after cardiac arrest increases a victim`s chances of survival.

As per AHA guidelines, chances of survival decrease by 10 per cent every minute from the occurrence of a cardiac arrest.

One of VIVO`s clients, DLF Golf Resorts Ltd Director Aakash Ohri said: "Such kind of training is important to handle any emergencies at work so as to make it a safer place. It helps one to be prepared in any kind of situations."

While several countries across the world are training the common man to save sudden cardiac victims from dying, the World Heart Federation (WHF) says less than one per cent Indians would presently know how to carry out a CPR.

The revelation is stark since 7.5 lakh people die of sudden cardiac arrests every year in India with over 80 per cent of these emergencies occurring outside a hospital setting.

On an average, a victim begins to suffer irreversible brain damage four minutes after the cardiac arrest if no CPR is administered.

Shakti Singh, Managing Director, VIVO Healthcare, says, "Emergency response infrastructure is very poor in our country. There is huge need for companies, individuals and communities to be better prepared to manage emergencies."


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