Guest Blog Post: Bayhealth Interventional Cardiologist Roberto Scaffidi shares “Your health is too precious to take risks, learn the signs of a heart attack and stroke”

Your health is too precious to take risks–particularly when you’re having a medical emergency. Warning signs of a heart attack or stroke should never be ignored. Getting immediate care by … Read more

American Heart Association Announces Chair for 2023 Delaware Heart Ball

Allison Kerwin, Senior Vice President of Delaware Commercial Real Estate for M&T Bank, will serve in leadership role. The American Heart Association, the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on ensuring … Read more

1 Million Dollar Transformational Gift Creates Big Change in Delaware

The American Heart Association is excited and humbled to announce, Thom Harvey, Chairman & CEO of Harvey Hanna & Associates (HHA) and his wife Robin have donated 1 million dollars … Read more

Don’t Delay: Risks of Waiting to Have Your Heart Checked 

When it comes to your heart, you can never be too careful. Preventing heart conditions, such as cardiac arrest or heart disease, can begin today. Sometimes all it takes to … Read more

Damar Hamlin’s Inspiring Recovery: CPR Saves Lives 

While playing in the Buffalo Bills – Cincinnati Bengals game on Monday Night Football on January 2, Bills player Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest after a hit and was administered CPR on the field before being transferred to an area hospital.

Hamlin reportedly experienced a cardiac arrest – when the heart stops abruptly with little or no warning. Early recognition of cardiac arrest improves the person’s chance of survival and is key to starting the correct care of CPR and the appropriate use of defibrillation to restart the heart. The on-site medical team evaluated the situation and appeared to quickly remove his safety pads, begin CPR and apply the automated external defibrillator (AED).  

CPR can help keep the heart pumping and blood flowing to vital organs until an electrical shock from a defibrillator is available to restore the heart to a normal heart rhythm. Then the patient can be safely moved for further medical treatment, supportive care, testing to determine what the cause of the arrest may have been and recovery, including both physical and mental health resources for the person and their family.

Possible causes

Cardiac arrest can have several causes. Since Hamlin collapsed immediately following a tackle on the play, one potential cause could be commotio cordis. Commotio cordis is a rare phenomenon from a sudden blunt impact to the chest causing sudden death in the absence of apparent cardiac damage. The blow to the chest at precisely the wrong time in the cardiac cycle causes an electrical abnormality in the heart resulting in  an irregular heart rhythm that cannot pump blood to the body.  Immediate CPR and a shock to reset the rhythm can help the heartbeat return to normal function.

Another cause of cardiac arrest that additional tests are likely to attempt to detect or rule out is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) or a thickened heart muscle – a more common cause of sudden cardiac death in young people and athletes specifically. The thickened heart can be due to a genetic condition or can be caused by athletic conditioning that thickens the muscles of the heart and can make it more susceptible to an irregular heart rhythm like ventricular fibrillation/tachycardia.

“This was traumatic for everyone, especially Hamlin’s family and teammates but also for so many others involved and witnessing the event. More than 70% of cardiac arrests that do not happen in the hospital, occur in a home where access to medical professionals and an AED is not as readily available,” said Mariell Jessup, M.D., FAHA, chief science and medical officer of the American Heart Association. “Recognizing a cardiac arrest, calling 911 immediately, performing CPR and using an AED as soon as it is available are critical for survival.

Statistically speaking, it is likely that the person will need to be helped by a family member or a friend to survive.”

Having community members trained in CPR and AEDs in public spaces can increase the chances of survival. The rate of bystander CPR in North America is estimated at only 39-44%, and only about 1 in 10 people survive an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Improving the rate of bystander CPR is critical to increasing survival from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA).

The skill to perform CPR and use a defibrillator are the foundational components of preparing laypeople to respond to cardiac arrest. People also need to feel emotionally prepared to respond and be able to cope with the aftermath of performing CPR.

Resources for learning CPR

Each year in the United States, an estimated 350,000 people experience sudden cardiac arrest in the community. Anyone who witnesses a cardiac arrest in the community (i.e., not in a hospital) can perform CPR. Roughly 70% of cardiac arrests that do not happen in the hospital, occur in homes and private residences, therefore, a friend or family member is mostly likely to be the person who needs to take action. CPR, especially if performed immediately, can double, or triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival.

For adults and adolescent children, Hands-Only CPR is an easy-to-learn skill that requires only two steps: call emergency services and push hard and fast in the center of the chest at a rate of 100-120 beats per minute.

For more information, visit


Eating for Heart Health

There are a lot of things we can do to improve our health. Eating a heart healthy diet is one of them. Bayhealth Primary Care Physician, Preeti Gupta, MD, explains, “Maintaining a healthy way of eating can help prevent many ailments, including heart health issues. And I always say, prevention is better than a cure.”

One of the best ways to eat for heart health is with a plant-based diet. It’s a healthy way of eating that won’t have you sacrificing flavor. Better yet, countless studies suggest that eating less meat decreases the risk of heart attack, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Here are Dr. Gupta’s suggestions to transitioning to a plant-based way of eating.

Plant-based eating
There are three main types of plant-based eating. The strictest is vegan, which eliminates all animal products such as meat, eggs and milk. Next, is vegetarian, which eliminates meat but still allows eggs and dairy products. Both are very heart healthy ways of eating but if they are too much of a leap for you, perhaps you could try the third type of plant-based eating called, “plant-forward” eating.

The plant-forward lifestyle
Eating a plant-forward diet means that you eat vegetables and fruit more often and as your main dish. You can still enjoy meat, eggs and dairy as side items. When you do choose meat, try to stick with lean, skinless poultry and fish, which are excellent sources of protein. Other meats are more likely to be high in cholesterol and saturated fat, which can contribute to poor heart health. You should also avoid processed meats such as deli meats and bacon, which are typically high in sodium.

Load up on veggies
In plant-forward eating, vegetables are the main portion of each meal. Did you know that most vegetables contain protein? Broccoli, spinach, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, corn, potatoes and peppers are some that provide needed protein. Beans are another source that can add flavor and texture to your meals. Also, have healthy fruit servings throughout the day which will help satisfy the sweet cravings.

Whichever plant-based eating plan you try, remember to choose foods lower in sodium and avoid added sugars, saturated fats, and especially hydrogenated oils, which contain trans-fat. Watch portion sizes and use nonstick cooking sprays rather than added fats when cooking. Don’t forget healthy whole grains such as whole wheat bread and brown rice.

Eliminating certain foods may be easier than you think. Once you begin a plant-based diet, your body will start reaping the benefits almost immediately – and you’ll feel better in general. “Don’t put off living your healthiest life by waiting until Monday to start your nutrition plan,” said Dr. Gupta. “You can do this. Just start now.”


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Stay Active this Winter by Visiting DE State Parks

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