‘Stayin’ Alive’


If you can push your hands in an animated manner to the beat of the springy music “Stayin’ Alive,” you just might be able to save a life when the time comes.

‘Stayin’ Alive’ was a signature disco song written and performed by the famous band, Bee Gees, from the Saturday Night Fever motion picture soundtrack. It was that bouncy song John Travolta was gracefully swinging his bell-bottomed pants to the tune of the opening part during movie.

It just might be the perfect tune to remember when you have to do a hands-only cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on someone who has just gone into cardio-respiratory arrest outside the hospital. Its tune has 100 beats a minute, which is the same number one must do the chest compressions on a person who has just gone into CP arrest.

For the longest time, cardiovascular causes remain the leading cause of deaths in our country and many parts of the world. One out of three deaths are due to a CV cause which includes coronary artery disease, heart failure, fatal arrhythmias, as well as strokes and other vascular causes.

If we look at heart diseases alone, the stats are still alarming—one out of five deaths are due to heart causes, based on figures coming from the Department of Health. Experts also estimate that around eight to 11 Filipinos are suffering from cardiac arrest every hour. A big number of them may have this fatal event in the church, malls, markets, bus stations or in the streets while walking.

Ed and Mariz Alvarez

The usual reaction of bystanders is to just wait for the ambulance to arrive, but by the time expert assistance arrives, there is already irreversible brain damage and although the heart may be defibrillated back to a normal rhythm, the patient may theoretically survive but will remain in a vegetative state the rest of his or her life.

Every minute that a CPR is delayed reduces the chances of survival and recovery by 10 percent. If it’s delayed by five minutes, a 50-percent chance of recovery shall have gone down the drain. If it’s delayed by more than ten minutes, the prospect of recovery is nil.

Around two years ago, a very close friend of mine, Eduardo ‘Ed’ Alvarez, went into a CP arrest after sneezing hard. The sneeze likely triggered a fatal arrhythmia in his heart. This happened in a high-end supermarket in Makati, and there was no one among the hundreds of supermarket or mall staff who knew how to do basic CPR. Bystanders were caring enough to call for help, but none apparently was knowledgeable or confident enough to do basic CPR on Ed.

One can’t help but wonder that had someone from all the people who were there knew hands-only CPR, Ed would probably still be around today. He’s one of the nicest and most generous persons I’ve ever known. He spent practically all his free time engaging in socio-civic activities with his colleagues at Rotary Club, where he was one of a few Filipinos occupying a high international position.

Perhaps, it would be a good idea for Rotary Club International to collaborate with the Philippine Heart Association (PHA) in their nationwide CPR Awareness campaign. They can do it in Ed’s memory, so other people who experience CP arrest may still be given a fighting chance to survive it. They can even call the project Stayin’ Alive because Ed has also helped many indigent patients with various ailments stay alive by assisting them with their medical care.

Ed Alvarez (seated, left), wife Mariz (seated, center) and other Rotarian colleagues and spouses during one of the Rotarian International gatherings in San Diego, California

We fully support PHA’s vision to make every Filipino, even children and adolescents, knowledgeable on basic hands-only CPR. Kudos to the whole PHA Board, currently headed by Dr. Jorge Sison. Kudos also to the champions of this campaign—Dr. Raul Lapitan, immediate past president; and Dr. Francis Lavapie, chairman of the Council on CPR.

Indeed, what a wonderful vision it is—to have a nation of lifesavers.

More power and God bless!

RAFAEL R. CASTILLO, MD
Editor-in-Chief
rafael.castillo@fame.ph

May 2018 Health and Lifestyle

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