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Dr. Robert Sepulveda discusses importance of calling 911, starting CPR during talk at Knapp Medical Center

When a person stops breathing and has no pulse, it is critical to call 911 immediately and begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) until emergency medical technicians arrive.

That was the message of Dr. Robert Sepulveda, Internal Medicine Physician, who spoke on “Sudden Cardiac Arrest” and on what can be done to prevent heart attacks during a free “Senior Health Talk” for the community at Knapp Medical Center in Weslaco on Feb. 7, 2017.

“CPR doubles a person’s chances of survival from sudden cardiac arrest,” Dr. Sepulveda said. “Delaying can be deadly. The important thing is to seek help – right away.”

Studies have shown the important of starting CPR within four minutes or sooner — and using an automated external defibrillator within 10 minutes – to give the person a better chance to live. The defibrillator shocks the heart, hopefully enabling it to get back into a correct rhythm.

As part of Dr. Sepulveda’s presentation, Mitty Reyna of Knapp Medical Center’s Education Department demonstrated how to perform CPR on a mannequin. Ms. Reyna pushed down on the mannequin’s chest area to rapidly perform “chest compressions,” which she did to the beat of the popular song by the Bee Gees, “Stayin’ Alive”.

Those interested in learning how to do CPR can contact Ms. Reyna to register for a community CPR class at Knapp Medical Center in Weslaco. She can be reached at 956-969-5455 or by e-mail The cost of the class for laypeople in the community can be as low as $5 for classes held on a weekday.

Warning signs that someone could be at risk for suffering a heart attack (in which there is a sudden blockage of blood flow to a portion of the heart) and going into cardiac arrest, include:

  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, back, shoulders or arms
  • Feeling weak, light-headed or faint
  • Shortness of breath
  • Having a feeling that you are going to die

While time is of the essence when these symptoms strike, some people may delay in calling for help because of various reasons, including thinking that the symptoms are due to something else; being afraid or unwilling to admit that the symptoms are serious; being embarrassed about causing a scene or creating a false alarm; and not understanding what getting to the nearest hospital can do to save the patient’s life.

As valuable as CPR is in saving lives, Dr. Sepulveda noted that it is much better to prevent heart attacks in the first place. He re-emphasized the importance of a healthy diet to optimize weight and prevent high cholesterol; controlling diabetes; limiting sweets; exercise; avoiding cigarettes, which he called “cancer sticks” and other forms of tobacco; restricting alcohol intake; and controlling high blood pressure.

“High blood pressure is like a jack hammer, pounding on the muscle of your heart,” Dr. Sepulveda said.

“To restrict your intake of fat, remember — not too many tacos,” he added. “Increase your consumption of fish and your fiber intake. Yes, it’s true – oatmeal can you help reduce your cholesterol.”

On the other hand, foods high in trans fats – such as certain margarines, chips, and many fast foods and sweets — increase the ‘bad’ cholesterol and do nothing to increase the ‘good’ cholesterol, Dr. Sepulveda said.

Knapp Medical Center’s Senior Health Talks are free and open to the community, and are held in the Knapp Conference Center, located at 700 Knapp Medical Boulevard. The talks include refreshments and a drawing for door prizes. The next talk will be on held on Tuesday, March 7, at 12:30 p.m., when Dr. Michael Sander, Orthopedic Surgeon, will speak on “Arthritis of the Knee & its Management.” For more information or to RSVP, please call (956) 973-5142 or email