Tuesday, February 24, 2009

ACAC Builds Bridge Between Doctors, Fitness Providers And The Public

“February is Heart Month, and it is the perfect time to raise awareness about skills that can save lives. On Feb. 24 from 6 – 7:30 p.m. and on Feb. 27 from 10 – 11:30 a.m., ACAC Fitness & Wellness Center will host ‘Save a Sweet Heart’ workshops where the public can learn to recognize the symptoms of a heart attack and receive an overview of CPR/AED techniques. Advance registration is required. One in 400,000 people will go into cardiac arrest while working out at a health club, cites Joe Schwar, a membership coordinator and CPR instructor at ACAC. Statistically, that would mean that ACAC has seen more than its fair share of action. Schwar recounts the successful resuscitation of three individuals at ACAC over the past 11 years using a combination of CPR and an automated external defibrillator (AED). One morning last December, it was business as usual—until the AED alarm went off. Emergency codes indicating that a member was experiencing a life-threatening emergency were broadcast over all of the company’s two-way radios. ‘Your heart just sinks when you hear the alarm,’ says Schwar, ‘and then you spring into action because you know that every second counts. As a precautionary measure, we respond to all priority emergency calls by pulling our AED.’ ‘ACAC’s Save a Sweet Heart classes are a great chance for parents to learn valuable skills to protect their children. And couples like the idea of being able to help their partner during a crisis. These classes are not full certifications, but participants will walk away with basic CPR/AED information. I hope people will take advantage of this opportunity.’ ACAC Fitness & Wellness Centers were early adopters of the AED, a device that detects abnormal heart rhythms. ‘If someone goes into cardiac arrest, AED use greatly improves the patient’s chances for survival,’ says Schwar. ‘If CPR is started right away and the rescue squad arrives within four to six minutes, survival rate is about 17%. With an AED, the chance for survival jumps to 70%.’ Schwar attributes ACAC’s excellent track record for emergency response to company-wide CPR/AED training. ACAC team members across all departments, whether they work four hours or forty per week, are required to be CPR/AED certified. ‘We take our members’ health very seriously,’ says Joyce Steed, general manager at ACAC. ‘While we obviously like to be in the business of preventing health crises, we need to be able to act swiftly in the event of an emergency.’ According to Steed, the health and fitness industry is realizing more than ever the overlap between health services and exercise providers. ‘There is a real movement towards medical fitness,’ says Steed. ‘Exercise is a great form of medicine to treat and prevent an incredible range of health problems. The missing link is a bridge between the doctor’s office and a patient’s daily life.’ The American Medical Association seems to agree. Its Exercise is Medicine™ campaign, launched in November 2007, urges doctors to monitor patients’ physical activity levels and to prescribe exercise. One of the studies behind that campaign showed that patients look to their doctors for health and wellness advice and that they are more likely to exercise if it is prescribed by a doctor. Despite the AMA’s glowing endorsement of exercise, Steed identifies one problem that remains. ‘The majority of people need some guidance or motivation to break old habits. I imagine after a doctor has prescribed exercise that some patients ask themselves, ‘What next?’ Most of our new members want to know what kinds of things they should do, for how long and if they’re doing it safely and effectively. That requires some professional input.’”


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