By Elizabeth Cohen
CNN Medical Senior Correspondent
Dr. Kenneth Rosenfield, an interventional cardiologist at Massachusettts General Hospital, once had a patient whose life was saved because the man had a quick-thinking wife who knew the rhythm to the song “Staying Alive,”
The couple were taking a walk in the woods last year when he, like Michael Jackson, suffered cardiac arrest and collapsed. The man’s wife called 911, and then performed CPR on her husband for 15 minutes until the ambulance arrived.
“She saved his life, and when I asked her how she knew how to do CPR, she said she’d heard a one-minute spot on the radio from the American Heart Association that said to push very hard, 100 times per minute, to the tune of “Staying Alive,” Rosenfield says.
Getting CPR within minutes is crucial for someone who’s suffered from cardiac arrest, as brain death and permanent death start to occur just four to six minutes after the heart stops. More than 95 percent of cardiac arrest victims die before reaching the hospital, according to the AHA.
If more people knew CPR, many of these lives could have been saved, Rosenfield says. “I’ve had four or five patients saved by bystanders in the past year. It’s remarkable.”
Some of these lifesavers – like a high school senior who performed CPR on a man who’d collapsed in a clothing store – were trained in CPR. Others, like the woman who saved her husband, had no training but had heard the basics.
CPR is much easier than people think, Rosenfield says. “You should take a class, but it’s easier than it used to be. There’s no mouth to mouth. You push on the chest very hard and don’t worry about breaking a rib.”