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Heart health awareness picks up after Pegula & Hamlin cardiac incidents

A Western New York doctor says she has seen an uptick in people wanting to learn hands-only CPR.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — It's been one year since Kim Pegula went into cardiac arrest. Since then, as she continues her recovery, our community has become more aware of heart health issues.

Kim Pegula and Damar Hamlin's health issues have really put a spotlight on heart health, and in recent months, a doctor 2 On Your Side talked with on Wednesday told us there has been a renewed interest in learning hands-only CPR.

On June 7, 2022, Kim Pegula survived cardiac arrest after her daughter, Kelly, performed CPR until paramedics got there.

On January 2, 2023, Damar Hamlin also survived cardiac arrest when medical teams saved him on the field, also using CPR.

In the months since, Dr. Anne Curtis, SUNY Distinguished Professor of Medicine at the University at Buffalo, said she has seen interest in learning CPR pick up.

"I've seen a big jump in interest in learning how to do CPR, and Damar Hamlin has actually taken a great lead on that. So the trainings that he did just recently with the community and teaching people how to do hands-only CPR, that's something that anybody could do, and it's easy to learn, and it can be life-saving as we've seen," Dr. Curtis said.

Hamlin also got help from an AED, an automated external defibrillator, on the field. Dr. Curtis says she also thinks there's an uptick in interest in having more AEDs available for people to use in an emergency.

"It's not just having the AEDs there, but it's also making sure that they stay functional so that way, you know, because they may not be needed for a year or two, but you want to make sure that when they are needed that they're ready to go," Dr. Curtis said.

Dr. Curtis has advice for people who haven't been trained in CPR just yet.

"Do it. It's easy. It takes very little time to learn how to do it, and just being armed with that knowledge in an emergency, you just never know when you might be the only person there who could help save a life," Dr. Curtis said.

Dr. Curtis says the American Heart Association is a really great resource if you're interested in learning more about hands-only CPR.

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