A Special Valentine Gift … The Heart You Save May Be Your Own by Charlene Sands

Heart sunset


Hey, today is Friday the 13th!  But I don’t mind. Friday the 13th has always been lucky for me.  My parents married on Friday the 13th and let’s face it, without them I wouldn’t be here!  My husband and I moved into the house we adore on Friday the 13th, so the date holds good memories.

Tomorrow is the day we celebrate love and romance on Valentine’s Day.  So much has been written about it, poems, and odes and stories and each year we try to show our love and appreciation for our beloved ones with homemade gifts,  gorgeous flowers or fancy dinners.  Perhaps that’s why February has also been deemed, American Heart Month.   There’s one more thing you can do to honor your loved one.  You can learn how to save a life, maybe his/hers, or maybe your own.  And that’s the best gift of all! 

For the past 15 years I’ve been a CPR instructor with the American Heart Association.   Since I teach childbirth and baby care in the community my main focus has always been with infants, but I’ve also taught and recertified nurses, doctors, office employees about being Heart Healthy as well as the mechanics of CPR.   Here are some facts you may not know … and if you do, it’s a good reminder.


·     About 75 percent to 80 percent of all out-of-hospital cardiac arrests happen at home, so being trained to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can mean the difference between life and death for a loved one.

·     Effective bystander CPR, provided immediately after cardiac arrest, can double a victim’s chance of survival.

·     CPR helps maintain vital blood flow to the heart and brain and increases the amount of time that an electric shock from a defibrillator can be effective.

·     Approximately 95 percent of sudden cardiac arrest victims die before reaching the hospital.

·     Death from sudden cardiac arrest is not inevitable. If more people knew CPR, more lives could be saved.

·     Brain death starts to occur four to six minutes after someone experiences cardiac arrest if no CPR and defibrillation occurs during that time.

·     If bystander CPR is not provided, a sudden cardiac arrest victim’s chances of survival fall 7 percent to 10 percent for every minute of delay until defibrillation. Few attempts at resuscitation are successful if CPR and defibrillation are not provided within minutes of collapse.

·     Coronary heart disease accounts for about 450,000 of the nearly 870,000 adults who die each year as a result of cardiovascular disease.

The very best thing you can do to save someone’s life is to recognize the warning signs.  Denial plays an important role. Heart attack victims, often don’t want to believe they are having a heart attack. They will make excuses – it’s the spaghetti I ate last night or I’m too young to have a heart attack. I know, my uncle died because he refused to acknowledge the signs. He stayed at home with chest pains for 2 hours before his attack which eventually led to his death.  

Here are the signs to look for:

Chest Discomfort – a squeezing pain or fullness, may come and go, or may last several minutes. At times, it’s been described as it feeling like an elephant sitting on the chest.

Discomfort in other parts of the body such as one or both arms, neck, jaw and back.

Shortness of breath with our without chest pain.

Cold sweat or nausea and lightheadedness

Though women do experience chest discomfort too, they may often have shortness of breath, nausea and back and jaw pain.

REMEMBER LADIES – It’s not just a man’s disease. 

So what can you do?   Well for you and your loved ones to stay heart healthy, here’s some things to ALWAYS DO.a-foods

Eat Healthy – it’s the old addage but it’s true.  Check food labels.  Make sure you’re limiting fats and high calories from your diet. Eat baked, not fried.  Eat fruits and vegetables fresh if possible, or steamed. 

a-dog-walkExercise – It’s not a 4-letter word!  Make it fun. Take the dog for a walk. Play tennis.  Swim.  Chase your kids or grandkids around the park. Did you know that the AHA recommends 30 minutes of moderate to intense activity a day.  It’s not a lot and you can break it up if you’re not an active person. Do something for 10 or 15 minutes a few times a day.  Make the time. The benefits are invaluable and include, improving your blood cholesterol levels, reducing high blood pressure, manages diabetes, reduces depression and anxiety and acts as a stress-buster. CHOOSE TO MOVE!

Stop Smoking – We all know it’s bad, but the risks of smoking and damage it does to your body are horrific. You are twice as likely to have a heart attack if you smoke.  Women who smoke have a higher risk of coronary heart disease compared to nonsmoking women. Smoking puts added strain on the heart because it causes vessels to clamp down or constrict.  If some of the blood vessels have already been narrowea-stop-smokingd or damaged by heart disease, smoking makes the problem worse.Smoking also causes temporary changes in your heart; it beats faster, raising your blood pressure and reducing blood flow.  Smoking also increases the level of carbon monoxide in your blood, which robs your heart and other tissues of vital oxygen.

Manage Your Weight – obesity is a major risk factor to heart attack. But if you eat healthy and exercise and lose your excess weight, you will reduce that risk factor and feel better overall.  a-baby-911

Act fast if you suspect someone is having a heart attack. 

CALL 911 or whatever your emergency number is in your area. 

Take a CPR class or renew your skills.   a-cpr

Visit the AHA website for more info on exercise, staying heart healthy, meal plans, CPR, risk factors, events and classes in your area. 

REMEMBER the heart you save might be your loved one’s or may even be your own!

Happy Valentine’s Day Everyone …Oh and did I mention that reading a romance novel, can also reduce stress, put a smile on your face and help you lose calories, (if you read it while on the threadmill)  Check out my current book guaranteed to make your heart throb, in a good way!  Oh and tomorrow I’m the spotlight author on our dear friend Pam Thibodeaux’s Blog.  Please make 2 stops tomorrow, Petticoats and Pam’s Blog!

How many of you know CPR?  When’s the last time you’ve taken a class?  And do you believe you’re heart healthy? Are you trying to be? 


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43 thoughts on “A Special Valentine Gift … The Heart You Save May Be Your Own by Charlene Sands”

  1. Thanks Charlene, for blogging on this critically important topic. I have a history of heart disease on my mom’s side of the family so I monitor my own heart health closely by having the appropriate tests, exercising and eating a heart healthy diet. I work with a nutritionist, through my doctor’s office, to accomplish the diet part. I just had a CT cardiac scoring done last week and am happy to say I scored very well. The test isn’t covered by insurance yet but my local radiology clinic is offering is for $99 during American Heart Month. That’s a small price to pay, imo, for the info it gives you.

    I’ve been CPR certified for many years but it’s time to take another refresher course. Thanks for the reminder! I know first-hand how important it is to know CPR. I awoke early one morning to find my late dh seizing in the bed next to me. He then went into cardiac arrest. I quickly dialed 911 then began CPR. The paramedics and the ER Doc all told me that I saved his life by knowing how to perform CPR. Taking a few hours out of my busy schedule to learn CPR gave me three more years with my wonderful husband. I can’t encourage people strongly enough to learn this skill. You never know whose life may one day be in your hands.

  2. What a great blog, Charlene. A very needed reminder. I’ve had CPR training twice but it’s been a long time. I try to review what I learned but I’m afraid I might freeze up if I had to save a life. Your blog served as a reminder to take a refresher course.
    The above comment from pjpuppymom about saving her husband is an inspiration. I want to thank her for sharing her story.

  3. It has been a few years since I have done CPR I really need to get a new course so I would be ready if I need to.
    Elizabeth I am with you I thought I would freeze up if I ever had to use it but you will be surprised if you do need to use it, you will be able to do it all without thinking. My brother was born early so I needed to learn CPR he was on all kinds of machines when he came home and I thought oh my goodness what happens if it goes off I would just die, well it did go off a lot because there was a problem with the machine I didn’t know that at the time so I just went into action, it is something that hopefully we never have to use but it is very nice to know how to do it. Charlene thanks for reminding us all about this I think we should all sign up as a family event go thing to know. At the time I was the only 1 who knew how to do it. Very scary for a 16 year old.
    Very handsome cover!

  4. Yes, I have had CPR and First Aid training, however I definitely need a refresher course! Thanks for the heart healthy tips! And great book cover Charlene!

  5. Good morning, Charlene! Great advice for all of us. Just last week, I re-certified my CPR. It’s my fifth time, and I still think–if I had to do it in a true life and death situation–I’d be so rattled, I would forget every absolute thing I’d ever learned.

    sigh . . .

    Let’s hope I’m not put to the test, eh?

    Happy Valentine’s Day!

  6. I’m certified in CPR, thought it’s been a while since I took the class. My husband and I took it together and for YEARS afterward I was just PRAYING someone would try and die in front of me so I could swoop in and save then.

    No luck.

  7. Hi pjpuppymom! Cute name btw!
    Your story of saving your husband’s life is so touching and I’m so glad you had a good outcome. You gave him and You those extra years. I wish you many years of heart healthiness! And yes, take a CPR class. There are actually free CPR Blitz classes in communities this month. Everyone should check out your local community events.

    Hi Mr. Son – thanks for stopping by today and I’m glad you enjoyed the blog!

  8. Hi Elizabeth – the AHA has made CPR so much easier to remember. And this is what I always say to my students, if the victim is breathless and pulseless -you can’t hurt them anymore, you can only help. Even if your count is off, if you do compressions and give air, they have a better chance of survival.
    But many people share your concerns. I’m happy to hear you’ll be refreshing your skills. Thanks for the compliment on the cover too!

  9. Hi Brenda,
    You are a trooper! I’m amazed at how cool you were with your baby brother at 16! You just went into action and that’s exactly what you needed to do. Wonderful story and just like I mentioned to Elizabeth, you can’t hurt them if they are in cardiac arrest, you can only help them. If you know that, you are more apt to perform the skills you’ve learned. I’m happy to hear your story today… it’s a good lesson to all of us to take action!

  10. Hi Pam – You know, it’s necessary knowledge, but ironically it’s the one time you take a class and pray you never have to use the info you’ve learned. Good for you for updating your skills often! And we tell our students to practice on a stuffed animal or doll once a month, to keep the skills fresh in their minds. Truly, didn’t you find the CPR changes much easier to remember this time around. The AHA is trying to condense the info, concentrating more on easier skills.

  11. Hi Mary – your enthusiasm makes me laugh, but I know what you mean. I have performed the Heimlich manuever before, but haven’t done CPR on anything but a dummy.

    The other day I was at a store and a woman was down. I felt my duty to see what happened to her, ready with my barrier mask (I keep in my purse-its small) to help her. Luckily for her, and me, she didn’t need CPR. She’d woken up, diabetic shock. They called 911 and all was well.

  12. Happy Friday the 13th!! Hope it continues to be lucky for you.

    Good topic to blog about and it’s something we all need a reminder about from time to time. I don’t know CPR but I wish I did. A person never knows when it’ll come in handy. I consider myself pretty healthy overall. I could do better though if I excercised. That’s my downfall. I get real motivated and do well for a few days then I slide right back into my old ways. Ha! I need someone to get behind me with a cattle prod! lol

    I’m reading your book but not finished yet. Brock Tyler is soooooo sexy! I’m in love!

  13. Yay, Mary! Another happy Friday the 13th-er!

    Hi Linda,
    Oh, I get that about not wanting to exercise. I get real good then something happens, my knee hurts or I get sick, and it takes me a long time to get back into the routine. But I do try. And you do too, so that’s a good thing! Do you watch Biggest Loser? I find it so inspirational to see these VERY overweight people transform their bodies, but more so, their lives, in just 12 weeks. My hubby thinks I’m crazy for watching it because of all the drama, but I tape it, zip through the reality part and watch the health tips and weigh-ins.
    I just received your book from Amazon! I can’t wait to read it. It’s first on my TBR pile after I finish the Rita books. One more to go!

  14. Great post, I have never had a CPR class, but I think it is a wonderful thing to do. Thanks for giving us all the warning sighs. Right now I don’t think I am heart healthy but as soon as this bad weather clears up I am going to start walking again. I was walking two miles a day until the weather got bad and I know this is no excuse.

  15. Hi Charlene, what a great, timely post. I was certified CPR during my teaching days and I think I remember, but no doubt I should do a refresher. With a husband who has a career as a paramedic, I confess I figure it’d be up to him.

    I’ll see you tomorrow at Pam’s. And Happy Valentines Day!


  16. Hi Quilt Lady – Oh, please do keep walking. I have a threadmill, but I don’t use it as often as I should. My hubby and I have vowed to walk more at night when the weather warms up. I’m a wimp, I know. I hate cold and to me in CA, if it’s not in the 70’s, it’s COLD!!

  17. Hi Tanya,

    Yes, definitely do a refresher. Tim knows what he’s doing, BUT what if he NEEDS you for CPR? You need to know what to do. I always laugh, because I say the opposite to Don, I can save his life, but CAN he save mine? I have to give him updates to make sure 🙂
    Remember, it’s easy. A -air, B-breathing-C-compressions You don’t even have to check a pulse anymore!

    I hope to see you at Pam’s tomorrow too and HAPPY V Day!

  18. Charlene 70’s oh that would be nice about right now. We are getting slammed with a ton of snow and I am not liking it. So 70’s would be nice we were told we might get between 3 and 11 inches not sure they know how much. it started sooner then they thought so I think we are going to get a lot. It is snowing like crazy.

  19. Brenda – you know, my hubby would love to be in snowfall. He’s longed for it and has never seen it. Since I hate the cold, I’m glad we don’t get snow. It’s pretty, but… I remember living in NY as a child… then it was fun. But now, I’m glad we have mild weather usually. Here’s hoping you can wade thru all that white powder. Spring isn’t too long off!

  20. Thanks for all the tips. I did take a class in CPR but that was a long time ago and I should do it again. I just started an exercise routine but it’s only been a couple of weeks 🙂

  21. Hi Jeanne,

    Great to see you here. It’s okay to start out slowly with exercise. You’ll build it up and you don’t have to do it all at once. Do something for a few minutes several times a day or walk the dog for half an hour. No dog? Take a morning walk or walk in place while watching your favorite TV show. Anything helps! I’m glad you enjoyed the tips!

  22. I am a retired nurse,but when I was working at a hospital,I was lucky enought to not have to use my CPR training,I worked a surgical unit,but I did have to use it one day in a shopping mall,with my children present,so you never know when it will happen to you,luckily I have not had to use it again since,thanks for making people aware

  23. Hi Vickie,
    I didn’t know you were a retired nurse! Well, it was sure lucky for that victim that you were at the shopping mall that day! I hope this post does make people more aware… thanks for stopping by!

  24. I was certified for CPR many years ago, but my bad, I haven’t kept up the certification. I’ll have to see about that! As to my own heart health, I had to undergo full testing including nuclear tests last year. I had been having some persistent back discomfort so off to the cardiac specialist I went. Luckily, she gave me a clean bill of heart health! Luckily, I have a primary physician who recognized the difference in possible heart symptoms for men and women!!

    Pat Cochran

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