Four Compelling AED Program Must Haves

Annuvia released a list of “Four Compelling AED Program Must Haves” this afternoon. Check out this list as you’re sure to be impressed with how our technology is leading the way in the Automated External Defibrillator industry in more ways than saving lives due to sudden cardiac arrest.

Included in our list, Arch offers AED program managers new e-commerce methods to re-order accessories, obtain AED medical oversight from leading physicians, and automatically file mandatory 911 and EMS AED placement reports.

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Risk Reduction = Premium Reduction

Converse to the usual insurance company policy of increasing premiums for riskier drivers, some employers are now offering to reduce health insurance premiums for employees that take steps to reduce their individual risk for illness. Literally. Virgin Airlines is among these companies. This employer has issued pedometers to interested employees to track the number of steps taken each day. Those meeting previously set goals will find the rewards in their pay checks as well as on the bathroom scales and in increased wellness.

Although a pilot program now, Virgin hopes to reduce its annual health care premiums and pass the savings on to the employees choosing a healthier lifestyle. Currently all employees of most companies are charged the same premiums for the same levels of coverage regardless of lifestyle choices. It has been argued elsewhere effectively that it is easier to choose a healthy lifestyle than it is to attempt to medicate a way out of poorly made choices. Unsaid is that it is also much less expensive for the insurance company, too.

Arguably more money invested in employee wellness will be returned in the form of higher productivity, fewer days off the job, and lower insurance premiums. Passing the difference along to eligible employees will encourage worker buy in and encourage those reluctant to take steps toward wellness to start with small goals. This appears to be the ultimate win-win situation for workers and employers alike.

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How Much Caution Is Too Much?

Anthony Troupe, Jr., 13, collapsed in the third week of August on a St. Louis high school football field while running laps before football practice. Unfortunately, this story does not have a happy ending. Inspite of heroic CPR attempts, Anthony died of a sudden cardiac event related to a previously undiagnosed heart problem. He had passed his mandatory sports physical shortly before, but that physical did not include any sort of EKG heart testing. In Anthony’s case, there was a family history of heart disease evidenced by his father’s sudden death at the age of 45 after working a night shift in April, 2007.

Could Anthony’s life have been saved if a EKG test was a requirement prior to playing prep sports? There are an estimated 7 million high school athletes in the United States; should every one be tested for subtle heart defects that could potentially cause cardiac arrest during strenuous sports? In Italy, there is a national screening program that is credited with lowering the incidence of sudden cardiac death among young athletes. Can such a program be attempted in the much bigger United States with the same results? Should it?

Perhaps the answer does not lie in an all or nothing approach. Bruce Whitehead, the executive director of the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association of middle and high school athletic directors, believes that such tests are indicated when a student athlete’s background indicates the presence of heart disease. This middle ground would no doubt catch undiagnosed heart conditions in a number of cases, but there will still be some victims with no known risk factors. Perhaps the parents of all student athletes should be given the information and the statistics and make their own informed decisions about whether to test or not. An unnecessary EKG would be far better than living with the pain of losing your child the way Anthony’s mother lost him.

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Healthy Schools: Wellness and AED units

Many column inches in the daily newspapers have been devoted lately to increasing the nutritional value of the food offerings in our public schools. Like it or not, nearly all of America’s students eligible for free or reduced school lunch programs now eat both breakfast and lunch at school. Effectively, the American taxpayer is responsible for two thirds of the students’ daily nutrition. This is a significant charge for all of us and the fact that we are not doing very well by these children and young adults was recognized recently by 250 nation-wide “eat-ins.” In many areas these well organized “slow food” events did encourage people to think about the possibility of offering more local, fresh ingredients to our students on a daily basis. Certainly, wellness is a topic deserving mush more media attention. Unlike reactive solutions like prescription drugs, emergency treatment options, and health insurance overhauls, or preventative techniques like health screenings, cholesterol testing, or colonoscopies, wellness is a solution to train individuals to make positive, transformative, life-altering decisions – forever.

But what of a more pressing and immediate health issue; that of sudden cardiac arrest, an interruption in the normal heart rhythm, taking the lives of 7,000 to 10,000 school children each year. What about an organized “heart-in” in which cardiac screenings, CPR training, and AED Defibrillator instruction would be available for all student athletes? Of course a healthy diet is desirable, but a healthy heart is much more immediately necessary for any student engaging in vigorous physical activity.

Why limit CPR and AED training to the adults in charge of youth sports? The students themselves are much more likely to work out with peers on and off the field, thus far more likely to be closer to a victim in a sudden cardiac emergency than is the coach or referee or even the paramedic assigned to the event, if there is one.

Preparedness could easily be as much a part of sports training as are the ubiquitous push ups and crunches. The audience is already there and willing to be instructed. Because of the nature of the leisure time activities in which this age group engages, the idea of using an AED device is a natural and not to be feared. There exists a huge untapped resource of potential life savers today in our own schools. Train them to save lives today and continue to work toward providing them healthy nutrition in the longer run.

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Changing Demographics in the Workplace and its Effect on Corporate Health & Wellness Programs

An unanticipated side effect of the current economic climate is the changing demographic in the workplace. Long time employees are staying on the job and retiring later than did their predecessors, uncertainty about the future coupled with the fact that Social Security benefits that are not fully payable until age 66. More than one retiree has stayed in the workplace several years past a planned retirement date to hedge against shaky company pension funds.

But what of the younger worker, commonly referred to as Gen X? Clearly, as fewer workers are choosing retirement, correspondingly fewer younger workers are being hired. This change has greatly affected the demographics of the work place leading to a general graying of employees. The factors are far reaching, not the least of which is an impact upon corporate health and wellness care benefits. A shift from an emphasis upon health care for middle aged workers–traditionally a low risk group to insure– to the needs of workers previously considered “retirement age” has affected the amount of coverage employers are able to offer as well as the premium price tag employees and employers alike must pay due to higher risk factors associated with aging.

In spite of the fact that today’s “baby boomer” is more likely to eat healthily, exercise regularly, and less likely to smoke, there are health factors associated with aging such as high blood pressure and increased cardiac issues. Add to these the stress factor associated with the uncertain economy and the potential for strain upon the health care system is undeniable. Consider the strain upon the already thin company profit margin and the stress cycle begins anew.

It is time that employers recognize that the corporate health and wellness programs they provide must address the needs of the older worker. The risk for sudden cardiac arrest during exercise is twenty times as high as when at rest. Employers would be well advised to put into practice preventive programs as well as to equip all their workers with the skills necessary to address sudden cardiac arrest such as CPR training and Automated External Defibrillator (AED) Unit deployment. The odds are that the longer a person lives and works, the greater the chance a cardiac event will be witnessed. The burden does not rest solely upon the employer, however. It is incumbent upon the older worker to make appropriate life style changes if needed as well as to become informed about interventions that may be necessary. This dual responsibility awareness forges the best possible work partnership, a situation where each is working with the other for mutual benefit.

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Graying of America – Why no CPR?

Fade age spots. Look years younger with a Lifestyle Lift. Great taste helps lower cholesterol. The suspicion that the target age group of mass media has altered in an upward direction is confirmed by a simple glance through the magazine section of the Sunday newspaper. Born during a 19-year period after World War II, the generation known as the “Baby Boomers” are now closing in upon retirement age. But more and more often, they are choosing to stay in their careers or to engage in a second career of more meaning to them than to retire to the golf course and the bridge table as have done previous generations.

By sheer numbers, this group is causing changes in urban planning, marketing, and even in the English language. In 2006, 12 percent of the American population was age 65 or older. These “seniors” are senior in more ways that one: 76 percent of them have graduated from high school compared to 24 percent in 1965. Median income in this age group has increased by 79 percent since 1974.

More than 6,600 people are celebrating their 65th birthday each day. Couple these sheer numbers of better educated, wealthier retirees that grew up in an age of intense social change with their willingness to volunteer to effect social change and you have a vast pool of available talent that is underutilized. Senior centers offer a number of physical fitness options as well as the usual social choices, but why not health and wellness along with travel and wine courses? Include CPR and First Aid with travel classes. The audience is there and the centers are being built; now is the time to provide input into how they are being built and to capitalize upon the potential resources that are exist.

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The Technology Curve

For today’s students from kindergarten through graduate school, technology is a way of life. This is a generation that has never heard an LP, let alone a 45. On a multiple choice quiz, these young people would be more likely to choose the answer “pistol” than “music recording” if asked the definition of the latter. A recent article referred to the student-teacher technology gap as the difference between technology immigrants and technology natives. Guess which is which?

The health care ramifications may not be immediately obvious, but a “technology native” is much more likely to be willing to use technology to save a life–for example, to deploy an AED–than would be a “technology immigrant” to perform the same action. Studies show that bystanders witnessing a cardiac arrest respond between 17-33% of the time – even though many have had CPR training in the past. Could these dismal response rates be associated with a lack of familiarity of the life-saving benefits of AED units?

Interestingly, next year for the first time the United States Air Force will buy more unmanned planes than manned. Some of these drones are already in use, guided by the video game generation from a base near Las Vegas, to attack and patrol in Iraq with the precision of a laser surgeon. What can be done to tap into this comfort level with technology to increase the numbers of citizens willing to perform life saving CPR and to activate AED devices if warranted? One answer is to begin where all social change is best begun: in the public schools.

Health education is already required in many states. It would be a simple matter to add CPR and First Aid training as part of this curriculum. The generation taking such courses already comprises a substantial portion of the victim demographic. Who better to equip with life saving skills than the very people likely to witness an emergency event?

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