Heart-attack help you can carry in your pocket

Self-care in critical early minutes may save lives

A close friend’s brush with death inspired the head of an employee health consulting firm to develop a product that has the potential to save thousands of lives. The product is called the Cardiac CareKit, and it can fit inside the employee’s wallet or purse.

The kit’s components include:

  • a 16-page booklet containing information on recognizing heart attack warning signs, first aid, how to perform CPR, and a place for recording personal health information;
  • two aspirin;
  • a vinyl sleeve with two pockets and the worker’s name prominently displayed.

Brush with death

"A good friend of mine, who is 52 and who did not have any of the risk factors for heart attack or cardiac disease, was working in his yard recently and started to feel chest pains and pain moving to his jaw and shoulders, typical symptoms of a heart attack," relates Don R. Powell, PhD, president of the Farmington Hills, MI-based American Institute for Preventive Medicine. "Most people ignore these symptoms, but the American Heart Association recommends getting treatment within an hour."

Fortunately for Powell’s friend, he recognized the symptoms and knew to take an aspirin and call 911, and not to delay. An ambulance came and got him, and on the way to the hospital he had a heart attack — and survived. "The emergency personnel said that what saved his life were recognizing the symptoms, calling 911, and taking aspirin," says Powell. "When he told me this story, I wondered how many people knew to do this, and if there was any kind of kit for workers that covered this situation."

Powell did some calling around and couldn’t find such a product. "You can certainly take aspirin and call 911 on your own, but having a reminder in your wallet or purse can be very helpful," he notes.

Such a kit is especially important if your work force averages age 45 or older, says Powell, but notes that employees of any age can benefit. "Each year, approximately 800,000 people suffer a heart attack, and nearly one in three don’t survive, according to the American Heart Association," Powell observes. "More than half of these will die in one hour if they don’t recognize the symptoms and receive the proper medical care."

Through his company’s clients, Powell says he has the potential to provide about 20 million employees with the kit.

[For more information or to receive a sample kit, contact:

• American Institute for Preventive Medicine, 30445 Northwestern Highway, Suite 350, Farmington Hills, MI 48334. Telephone: (248) 539-1800. Fax: (248) 539-1808. E-mail: aipm@healthy.net. Web site: www.HealthyLife.com.]