June 25, 2008

Everyone Can and Should Learn Basic CPR

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: Once, walking down Fifth Avenue, I saw a man in his late 50s collapse and fall to the ground. A crowd formed around him, and almost everyone was calling 911. The man did not show any movement; just made sudden, loud sounds that sounded like snoring.

A guy checked his pulse, and another came forward and started pumping his chest with his palms. More people made more suggestions. I cannot forget this moment, as I saw a man dying in front of my eyes and wished I could have helped him. I want to learn CPR. I don't want to be a spectator if this happens again. Can you guide me to a place where an average person can be trained? - L.D.

ANSWER: Everyone can learn CPR - cardiopulmonary resuscitation. It's not a difficult procedure, and it has recently been simplified so that chest compression is all the average, untrained person needs to master. When people witness a person collapsing and if that person is unresponsive with no breathing or with gasping, snorting breathing, bystanders can assume that person has had a cardiac arrest (stoppage of heart action) and can begin CPR without fear of doing harm and with the prospect of doubling the person's chances for survival. First, quickly call 911.

The heel of one hand is placed in the center of the stricken person's chest, between the nipples. The heel of the other hand is put on top of the first hand, and the rescuer begins pressing down on the chest, hard and fast. The ideal number of compressions is 100 a minute with a force that depresses the chest 1.5 to 2 inches. Mouth-to-mouth breathing is no longer emphasized.

If the rescuer has had more formal training, then he or she administers two breaths through the stricken person's mouth after every 30 compressions.

Get in touch with the Sarver Heart Center, sponsored by the University of Arizona, at www.heart.arizona.edu. The phone number is 520-626-4083. It provides all the information anyone needs to perform CPR. The American Heart Association is another organization that sponsors CPR training, and it can be reached at www.americanheart.org.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: Please explain the difference between a thyroidectomy and Hashimoto's thyroid. - H.C.

ANSWER: A thyroidectomy is surgical removal of the thyroid gland. Hashimoto's thyroiditis is inflammation of the gland, which results in hypothyroidism, a low or zero production of thyroid hormone, with all its consequences - lethargy, weight gain on a low-calorie diet, dry hair and skin, a low heartbeat, constipation and disruption of menstrual periods. The gland enlarges - becomes a goiter. Treatment is with thyroid hormone in pill form.

The thyroid booklet explains all aspects of thyroid illnesses and their treatment. Readers can obtain a copy by writing: Dr. Donohue - No. 401, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6 Can. with the recipient's printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: You recently wrote about a varicocele. In my 1940s medical dictionary, in the definition of varicocele, it mentions "hypochondriacal outlook and defective morals." Is that still true? - N.N.

ANSWER: It never was true. Toss that dictionary out.

Hypochondriasis is a sincere but mistaken belief by people that they are ill when all evidence indicates they are healthy.

A varicocele is a tangle of dilated testicle veins. Defective morals have nothing to do with it.

Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853- 6475. Readers may also order health newsletters from www.rbmamall.com

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