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Restart A Heart Day: Friday 16th October 2020

Restart A Heart Day: Friday 16th October 2020

Damien O'Brien
Damien O'Brien
Restart A Heart Day: Friday 16th October 2020

Most adverse cardiac (heart) events occur in the home. Do you know where the closest defibrillator is to your home?

Could you restart someone’s heart?

This Wednesday, sixteen of our Year 12 scientists were treated to a fantastic online conference entitled ‘Your Heart Hospital Patient’ just ahead of ‘Restart A Heart Day’, to take place on Friday 16th October 2020. Organised by Dr Miles Dalby, working with the Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, he and the other presenters were highly experienced leaders in the field of Cardiology, and the conference was packed with a myriad of talks and activities that really benefited us in carving our future medical careers.

In addition, it provided each of the students with a valuable and eye-opening insight into the importance of the roles and responsibilities that not only healthcare professionals hold but the responsibilities that we, as humans, must strive to achieve, such as the messages that are reinforced by the ‘Restart A Heart Day’.

Being very different to the previous visit to Harefield Hospital in 2019, the online conference was filled with reminders of the issues that the current COVID restrictions are presenting us all constantly and highlighted the vital adaptations made by NHS during these different and challenging times.

The day opened with an introduction by the loquacious Dr Dalby, who went on to enrich us with knowledge of the difference between heart attacks and cardiac arrests, their prevention and emergency treatment. We also learnt about the riveting history of the Harefield Hospital (one of the largest specialist heart and lung centres in Europe) and the significant role it played during the Second World War as a hospital for wounded Australian soldiers.

This was followed by Professor William Toff emphasising the importance as to why it is vital that the general public are aware of how to perform CPR, comfortable with it and how to safely use a defibrillator, whilst urging us to spread the message to our family and friends. Would you be someone to rise to the challenge when needed? I can speak for many by saying how shocked I was to become aware of how crucial it is to know how to perform CPR or use a defibrillator as the number of people with cardiac arrests is equivalent to a passenger plane crashing every 10 days, with a less than 1 in 10 chance of survival. And that 80% of cardiac arrests occur at home!

When you come across an unconscious person:

  1. Danger: assess danger to yourself or the patient
  2. Response: Check for a response
  3. Shout: And send for help, call 999 or 112
  4. Airway: Slightly tilt the person’s head upwards to allow their airway to be fully open, check for obstructions
  5. Breathing: Check if they are breathing for 10 seconds.
  6. Circulation: Check for a pulse: circulation

Remember this as DR’S ABC.

  • If they are not breathing, then perform 30 chest compressions, pushing the chest down by about one third.
  • Give two emergency breaths. It is helpful to know how this is done, however, with the issues presented by Covid-19, this step is replaced by continuous chest compressions. Also, cover the mouth lightly with a cloth or thin item of clothing to prevent exhalation in your direction.
  • If you are able to have access to a defibrillator (AED – automated external defibrillator), after emergency services have been called, use without hesitation and follow the instructions provided with the kit; standing clear of the person when the defibrillator is in use. The defibrillator will talk you through the procedure.
  • Continue chest compressions and rescue breaths until the ambulance arrives.

The AED may be the lifesaver. For every minute that passes, the probability of survival decreases by 10%, so just knowing how to perform this is enough to potentially save a life. Evidence suggests that early education will significantly improve outcomes, and by June 2020, it is expected that it is expected to be on the school curriculum.

Dr Mahmoud Barbir, Consultant Cardiologist, provided a deeper understanding of how the heart works, linking it to the study of the heart the A-level Biologists would soon come across in their syllabus. It was nothing short of astonishing as we learnt about the sheer intricacy of the complex human heart.

Professor Simon Ray from Wythenshawe Hospital, Manchester, who has been an Honorary Professor of Cardiology since 2011, spoke about taking up training, working and the use of simulators to optimise practice.

Dr Rebecca Lane and Dr Shelley Rahman expanded on the topic of heart rhythm problems, heart valve problems and the treatment needed, looking through a scientific lens, whilst also providing an overview on the issues created through ethical matters, such as mechanical vs artificial replacements.

We, the students, had an opportunity to ask any questions they had throughout the conference and overall were provided with an experience that was, to say the least, captivating and insightful. From learning about the structure, function and problems associated with one of our most valued organs, the heart, to being shown the importance of learning CPR, it all seamlessly linked into the importance of ‘Restart a Heart Day’ this Friday as we urge all those who can to take part. Your training could be needed at any time…

Our day concluded with us being given further explanations and the opportunity to ask questions of Mr O’Brien, in order that we could fill some gaps in our understanding.

We are very thankful that Mr O’Brien provided us with the opportunity to join this conference, which really helped many of us carve and fine-tune our medical interests and potential medical careers. Thank you also to Miss Booth, who selflessly gave up her room for us all!


Written by Bhuvan Bhanderi 12M


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