Fall 2007
Fall 2007

Sudden Cardiac Death Can Strike at Any Time:
Are You at Risk?

Imagine you’re outside and you see lightning, hear thunder, feel a drizzle and finally, are in a downpour. Just like an oncoming storm, heart attacks send warning signals of trouble ahead.

Now imagine you’re outside on a different day. Suddenly, there’s lightening storm—and you’re struck. That’s how fast Sudden Cardiac Death (which is different than a heart attack) takes over. There are no warning signs and, like an unpredicted storm, there is no time to escape it.

Sudden Cardiac Death (SCD) happens when the heart experiences an extreme change in rhythm called ventricular fibrillation. During ventricular fibrillation, the heart becomes a shaky, jumpy mass and stops pumping blood to the brain and body.

The only way to stop SCD is to shock the heart out of the fatal heart rhythm within five minutes. This can be done two ways: with an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED), or an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD).

AEDs are what emergency personnel use to shock the heart into normal rhythms. Luckily, today AEDs are widely available—for anyone to use—in places such as malls, casinos, airports, supermarkets and movie theaters. The AED is easy to operate and provides voice instruction.

ICDs are lifesaving devices that are surgically placed beneath the skin of the chest. Fitted with a tiny computer, the ICD automatically delivers an electric jolt to the heart during ventricular fibrillation, regulating the beat once again.

Are You at Risk?

SCD affects twice as many men as women, typically those who are overweight and between 35-45 years old, and who have high blood pressure and cholesterol. Additionally, if you have had a heart attack or have been diagnosed with coronary artery disease, you may have an increased risk for SCD.

  • Previous heart attack: Nearly 75 percent of people who experience SCD have scar tissue from a previous heart attack. Scar tissue changes the electrical properties of some hearts, which increases the chance of ventricular fibrillation. The more damage the heart has sustained, the more scar tissue will form—which changes the heart’s ability to pump blood.
  • Coronary Artery Disease: Approximately 80 percent of people who experience SCD also have an increased chance for a heart attack. Contributing to that chance are diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, little exercise (a sedentary lifestyle) and obesity.

What You Can Do

You can decrease your chances of SCD by making necessary lifestyle changes to protect your heart. Quitting smoking, adding exercise to your schedule and managing your weight will help lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It is important to have regular physicals with your doctor so you know your risks.

What Your Doctor Can Do

Ask your doctor about your risks. He or she will measure your blood pressure and cholesterol and talk to you about your health history. Your doctor can also determine if you should have your ejection fraction (EF) measured. EF measures the percentage of blood pumped by each heartbeat. People with an EF of less than 40 percent may be at increased risk for SCD, and may be candidates for an ICD.

In an Emergency

You can increase someone else’s chance of survival by

  • Calling 911 if you see any warning signs of someone having a heart attack or if someone collapses and becomes unresponsive.
  • Performing CPR immediately until emergency help arrives. Bridgeport Hospital’s Emergency Care Institute (ECI), a certified American Heart Association training center, provides on-site training programs in CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), Automated External Defibrillator use, First Aid, Pediatric First Aid and Safety, and Infant CPR. For information, call 203-384-4497.
  • Using an Automatic External Defibrillator within five minutes.

Take it to Heart

SCD can strike without warning. By talking with your doctor about your risks, as well as by knowing what to do in an emergency, you can help save a life—perhaps your own.

Bridgeport Hospital Awarded Primary Stroke Center Certification!
Bridgeport Hospital is pleased to announce that it has achieved certification by The Joint Commission as a Primary Stroke Center. Certification is awarded to hospitals that meet certain national standards and make exceptional efforts to foster better outcomes in stroke care. For information, please call 203-384-3971.

Mediterranean Meatloaf
A tasty low-fat twist to a traditional family favorite. Serve sliced to display the colorful filling.
Makes 8 servings
Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (about 1 ounce)
  • 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey breast (93% lean)
  • 1 cup oats (quick or old fashioned), uncooked
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup fat-free milk
Instructions:Heat oven to 400 F. Soften tomatoes according to package directions; coarsely chop and set aside.

In a small skillet, add olive oil and sauté spinach and onion over low heat for 4 to 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Remove from heat; cool slightly. Stir in cheese; set aside.

In large bowl, combine turkey, oats, garlic powder, oregano, salt, pepper, milk and sun-dried tomatoes; mix lightly but thoroughly. Shape 2/3 of turkey mixture into a 9 x 6-inch loaf in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Make a long, deep well along the top length of the turkey loaf, leaving about 1 1/2 inches around edges; fill with spinach mixture. Top with remaining turkey mixture to completely cover spinach filling; pinch edges to seal. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until juices run clear when pierced with a fork. Let stand for 5 minutes before slicing.

Nutritional Information: per serving (1/8 of recipe): 160 calories, 3 g total fat (1 g saturated), 40 mg cholesterol, 1,385 mg sodium, 12 g carbohydrates, 3 g dietary fiber, 24 g protein.