Songs that can save lives

Dr. Alfred Asante-Korang


TAMPA BAY — Beyoncé’s “Crazy in Love,” Shakira’s “Hips Don’t Lie,” and the Bee Gees’ “Staying Alive” are familiar melodies that people enjoy singing or dancing to with family or friends. Yet, did you know that these famous songs can also help save the life of a loved one experiencing cardiac arrest?

Cardiac arrest involves an electrical malfunction in the heart that causes an irregular heartbeat and disrupts the flow of blood to the brain, lungs and other organs. Each year, more than 350,000 cases of cardiac arrest occur outside the hospital in the United States. Nearly 90 percent of those who undergo cardiac arrest at home, work or in a public location don’t survive this medical emergency.

African Americans are almost twice as likely to experience cardiac arrest in non-hospital settings compared to Caucasians, and their survival rates are twice as low. Fortunately, performing Hands-Only Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) can aid in reducing these statistics.

“Hands-Only CPR can increase a cardiac arrest victim’s chances of survival,” said Dr. Alfred Asante-Korang, a pediatric cardiologist at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute and an American Heart Association Tampa Bay board member. “Seventy percent of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests take place in the home. If you’re called on to give CPR in an emergency, you’ll most likely be trying to save the life of someone you love.”

Hands-Only CPR involves two simple steps. First, those who see a teenager or adult collapse should immediately call 9-1-1. Second, they can push hard and fast in the center of the cardiac arrest victim’s chest while thinking of a tune like Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” or Justin Timberlake’s “Rock Your Body” until medical help comes to the scene.

Songs Life, featured

What connection do these tunes have with CPR? These chart toppers have 100 to 120 beats per minute, which is the rate to push on a chest while performing Hands-Only CPR.

Surprisingly, more than 60 percent of Americans are afraid of doing CPR for fear of inadvertently causing injury to someone who has endured cardiac arrest.

“It’s better to act than to do nothing at all,” Dr. Asante-Korang said. “Chest compressions performed during Hands-Only CPR push oxygen-rich blood through the body to keep vital organs functioning. Hands-Only CPR buys time until emergency responders arrive.”

An American Heart Association study reveals that more than half of the three major U.S. minority groups – African Americans, Hispanics and Asian Americans – are aware of Hands-Only CPR. However, those likely to perform the procedure with confidence are much fewer.

The good news is that learning Hands-Only CPR takes only one minute. According to the American Heart Association, people are more likely to remember the correct pace of Hands-Only CPR when trained to the rhythm of a recognizable song.

A pediatric cardiologist with more than 20 years of experience with heart transplant patients, Alfred Asante-Korang, M.D., F.A.C.C., works at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, which has supported the American Heart Association’s CPR in Schools initiative since 2014. CPR in schools creates a generation of lifesavers by allowing thousands of local high school students to learn Hands-Only CPR.

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