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Healthy Roster provides patient engagement, care coordination, telemedicine and outreach tools for Sports Medicine, Orthopedics and other medical specialties. We enable patients to communicate with providers, reducing communication gaps, phone tag, and readmissions. Use with Home Health & SNF’s to manage CJR and Cardiac bundled payments.

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Filtering by Tag: safety

Understanding Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Healthy Roster

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Understanding Sudden Cardiac Arrest

#HeartMonth

It’s hard to believe that February is almost over. It seems like just yesterday we were reviewing winter safety tips, and now schools are gearing up for the spring season! But before we trade in the hockey skates and wrestling mats for tennis rackets and lacrosse sticks, we thought we’d take a moment to think about American Heart Month.

One of the most serious cardiac issues facing athletes today is Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). Though SCA technically has its own awareness month, it’s never a bad time to review the warning signs and prevention measures — after all, being properly prepared just might save a life.

A little background

SCA is a condition in which the heart “suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating.” When this happens, blood flow to the brain and other vital organs stops, which can lead to unconsciousness, permanent brain damage, and death all within a matter of minutes. Almost 300,000 sudden cardiac arrests occur outside of hospitals in the U.S. each year, including the 2,000 patients under the age of 25 who die of SCA annually.

It’s important to understand that SCA is not a heart attack. A heart attack, or a myocardial infarction (MI), occurs when blockage within a blood vessel prevents oxygen from reaching the heart tissue. SCA, on the other hand, is a cessation of the heart’s pumping caused by arrhythmia, an irregular heartbeat prompted by issues within the heart’s electrical system. While some MIs can additionally cause cardiac arrest, there are numerous other conditions that can trigger an SCA-inducing arrhythmia.

Because intense physical activity is one of the stresses that can cause the heart’s electrical system to fail, SCA is a serious concern for athletes. (In fact, one of the first reported cases was Pheidippides, the Greek soldier who collapsed after running 24 miles from Marathon to Athens to announce victory over the Persians.) Another common cause is Commotio Cordis. Caused by a “blunt, non-penetrating blow to the chest,” Commotio Cordis accounts for 20 percent of sudden cardiac deaths in young athletes.

While athletes with underlying heart issues are at a higher risk, as many as 80 percent are asymptomatic until SCA occurs, and some causes won’t be detected through pre-participation screening. Furthermore, SCA can occur in athletes who exhibit no risk factors and appear otherwise healthy. It’s thus imperative that athletic trainers understand how to recognize and react to SCA as quickly as possible.

Signs and symptoms

Just one in 10 students who suffer SCA survive, but survival rates improve drastically when proper steps are taken within three to five minutes of collapse. In fact, the greatest factor affecting survival is the time from arrest to defibrillation. If an athletic trainer can recognize the symptoms of SCA within a quick window, they can optimize the chances of saving the athlete’s life.

While any unexpected collapse should warrant consideration of SCA, additional symptoms in male athletes include chest, ear, or neck pain; severe headache; excessive breathlessness; vague discomfort; dizziness and palpitations; abnormal fatigue; and indigestion or heartburn. In female athletes, symptoms include center chest pain that comes and goes; lightheadedness; shortness of breath; pressure, squeezing or fullness; nausea or vomiting; cold sweats; and pain or discomfort in the arms, neck, back jaw, or stomach. Additionally, seizure-like activity occurs in half of young athletes with SCA, so seizures should be perceived as SCA until proven otherwise.

Prevention and preparedness

All athletes should undergo cardiovascular screenings before participating in competitive sports. This should, at minimum, include a comprehensive review of medical and family histories, as well as a physical exam. If possible, an electrocardiogram (ECG) should also be used to identify underlying heart issues that may put an athlete at risk for arrhythmia.

However, as we mentioned above, SCA can occur in athletes who exhibit no risk factors, so it’s essential that schools, clubs, and sports facilities develop an emergency action plan to respond immediately to suspected SCA. This should include recognition of SCA (see above), calling 9-1-1, initiating early CPR beginning with chest compressions, using an AED (see below), and transporting the athlete to a hospital capable of advanced cardiac care. Remember that once the heart stops beating, death is imminent within minutes, so the emergency plan should be activated as soon as possible. It should incorporate an effective communication system, ensure that first responders are trained in CPR and AED use, and be coordinated with the local EMS agency.

AEDs

Perhaps the most important aspect of a facility’s emergency action plan is its access to an automatic external defibrillator (AED). Studies have shown that the survival rate from SCA drops 10 percent for every minute that passes without defibrillation, and in cases where CPR is provided and defibrillation occurs within three to five minutes, survival rates have been reported as high as 74 percent. It’s therefore recommended that all facilities have an AED on-site and readily available within three minutes, though one minute is ideal. Additionally, all athletic trainers, medical professionals, coaches, parents, and athletes should be educated annually on their location and use so that an AED shock can be administered swiftly and properly in the event of SCA.

Have a great final week of American Heart Month!


Tips for Staying Safe and Active in the Winter

Healthy Roster

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Staying Safe and Active in the Winter

The cold season might have gotten off to a slow start, but given the chilly temperatures and intense snowfall that tore across the Midwest and the Northeast this past weekend, it’s safe to say — winter is here. But that doesn’t mean that you have to put a freeze on your training as well. Even though the days are shorter and the weather is nastier, you can still enjoy an active exercise regimen throughout the winter; you just have to take a few extra precautions to help reduce your risk of injury. Here are a few tips for staying safe until the spring!

Layer Up

Being outside in cold weather puts your body at risk for both hypothermia (a decrease in core temperature) and frostbite (freezing of body tissue). Thus, it’s imperative that you make proper clothing choices before you head out the door. Layering is key when it comes to winter attire, as it allows you to stay comfortable as your body heat rises. Rather than burrowing inside a bulky winter jacket, you should dress in a few layers of lightweight, synthetic material (always avoid cotton, as it will stay cold and damp as you sweat) Then, if you find yourself getting overheated during your workout, you can always shed a layer or two. Additionally, be sure to wear a hat, gloves, and warm socks to protect your extremities, and always pack an extra set of dry clothes.  

Warm Up Properly

To be sure, a proper warm-up should always be an essential part of your workout. Even if you play a winter sport (such as basketball or wrestling) that takes place in a temperature-controlled gymnasium, you can reduce your risk of high-incidence injuries with an active dynamic warm-up. But warming up is even more important when you face a chillier environment. Why? When the temperature drops, your body has to work harder to perform the same tasks, and this can cause your joints and muscles grow stiff. Not only can this make you more sore, but the lack of elasticity can put you at a greater risk for injury. Therefore, you should always start out with at least 10 minutes of stretching and exercises to loosen your muscles and increase your body’s temperature. Click here for more info on designing your dynamic warm-up.

Hydrate

You get thirsty when it’s hot out, so you should be fine leaving your water bottle at home in the winter, right? Think again! In fact, studies have shown an increased risk for dehydration in cold weather. Not only do our bodies work and sweat harder under the extra clothing, but we also lose more water to respiratory fluid loss than we would in warm weather. Additionally, our body adapts to the cold air by sending less blood to the extremities (hence, why our fingers and toes get so chilly) in an attempt to maintain core temperature. That warm blood in our core region can then lead to increased urine production which, in turn, contributes to dehydration. All of this is to say that it’s just as important to stay hydrated in the winter, even if you don’t feel as thirsty. So bring extra fluids and, if possible, cover your mouth and nose to decrease respiratory fluid loss.

Take Precautions

One of the most effective ways to prevent a winter athletic injury is to be prepared. In addition to what we’ve already covered (proper attire, warming up, hydration), this means understanding the particular dangers involved with your activity and knowing how to reduce those risks. Our friends at Children’s Hospital Colorado have compiled a helpful preparation guide for those looking to have some winter fun, so be sure to check it out before you go lace up the ice skates or pull the toboggan out of the shed. Finally, always be sure you understand the warning signs for serious exposure conditions. Though a trip to the ER for hypothermia might kill the high of your workout, it’s certainly better than letting it go untreated.

Now that you’re properly prepared, there’s nothing standing in between you and a wonderful winter workout!