Why there’s nothing romantic about Sinatra’s heart-stopping song lyric

Why there’s nothing romantic about Sinatra’s heart-stopping song lyric

What is a defibrillator? And how does a defibrillator work? Fire and Safety Centre highlights how intervention with a defibrillator can save lives in patients suffering cardiac arrest – and how you can change your lifestyle to reduce the risk of suffering one yourself.

Frank Sinatra and Rod Stewart both sang the line ‘and then my heart stood still’… which is all very well as part of a sentimental song, but a life and death situation if it really happens.

And people’s hearts sometimes really do stand still; failing to sustain the natural rhythm that pumps blood, and the oxygen it carries, around the body. It’s called cardiac arrest, and claims about 100,000 lives worldwide every year.

Without rapid intervention, sufferers can very easily die – and that can happen whilst you’re summoning help, as the lady in our picture is doing. As quickly as possible she should be doing manual CPR; manual intervention to keep the blood moving before the restoration of the heart’s rhythm. To know how you could do that was featured in a video starring former footballer hard man Vinnie Jones, which we shared in our advice pages.

Restoring the heart rhythm requires a defibrillator, but what is a defibrillator? And how does it work? There could hardly be a better time than Heart Rhythm Week to explain why. This is an event running between June 1st and 7th, and organised by the Arrhythmia Alliance to raise awareness of how to detect, protect against and correct heart rhythm disorders. (The week covers more than just cardiac arrest, taking in a number of other conditions too.)

Cardiac arrest victimWhat is a defibrillator?

First, let’s understand fibrillation. That’s the medical term for the heart temporarily having ‘forgotten’ how to beat. Instead of doing that it simply vibrates ineffectively. A defibrillator, sometimes called an AED, which stands for Automated External Defibrillator, is designed to kick-start it, and restore the natural rhythm.

How does a defibrillator work?

Defibrillators restore the heart’s natural rhythm by delivering a controlled electric shock. They come in two kinds – automatic and semi-automatic. Both kinds are designed for extremely easy operation by qualified and unqualified first aiders alike. They offer simple audio instructions, and will check the victim’s heart before delivering the shock themselves or instructing the first aider how and when to do it.

Fire and Safety Centre’s advice pages contain a wealth of information about defibrillators, the manufacturers that produce them and the difference between a cardiac arrest and a heart attack – because they’re not the same thing, and require very different treatment!

No-one should be nervous about using a defibrillator, which is increasingly to be found in workplaces, community halls, schools and surgeries and even aircraft. Our defibrillator product pages offer a number of models, all of which are available with free delivery, and some offer free training too.

How to guard against cardiac arrest

In one easy answer, make life easier for your heart! The best way to do that is through lifestyle changes like these:

  • Stop smoking
  • Drink less alcohol
  • Exercise more (Gardening, housework and gong for a walk all count)
  • Reduce salt and sugar intake
  • Lose weight (if you’re overweight)
  • Incorporate lean meat, poultry without the skin, fish, beans and low-fat milk into your diet

But if you have any health issues already it’s best to talk to your doctor before getting too involved in exercise.


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