More People Know How to Perform CPR, Saving Lives

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Jul 23, 2015 06:30 AM EDT

In the U.S., a much as 400,000 cardiac arrests occur outside of hospitals every year, as recorded by the American Heart Association. The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation reveals that 9 out of 10 of these cases result to death.

Cardiac arrest is a life-threatening medical emergency in which the heart ceases to pump blood in the body. In contrast to a heart attack, a cardiac arrest is commonly caused by ventricular fibrillation, which according to the British Heart Foundation, is "a life threatening abnormal heart rhythm." A heart attack, on the other hand, is "a sudden interruption to the blood supply to part of the heart muscle," which may also lead to cardiac arrest.

Because of the danger cardiac arrest poses to one's life, more and more people are encouraged to learn CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation. The AHA and American Red Cross have taken steps to increase awareness on the proper way of executing CPR on a person experiencing cardiac arrest, the Washington Post reports. From flash mobs to classes in fire stations, shopping malls, and high schools, more and more people are becoming aware and are able to help out people who suffer cardiac arrest.

According to the Huffington Post, a recent study, published in the Journal of American Medical Association, revealed that between 2010 and 2013, the number of people receiving CPR from a bystander rose from 39 percent to 49 percent, and survivors who did not have any significant brain damage rose from 7.1 percent to 9.7 percent.

Another separate study on 168,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrest cases that occurred between 2005 and 2012 also showed an improvement in bystander responses.

The Cleveland Clinic's Dr. Venugopal Menon said, "Time is of the essence. Once the heart stops beating there is no blood flow to the vital organs, especially the brain." This is why it is imperative for people to know CPR - whether it's to help a family member or a stranger on a street.

Dr. Carolina Malta Hansen of the Duke Clinical Research Institute in Durham, North Carolina said that "There are a lot of barriers to initiating CPR. People should know good Samaritan laws will protect whoever tries to help a person in need in a health-related situation. That means anybody. People don't need to be certified in CPR or to use an AED." An AED or automated external defibrillator is an electronic device that can aid the heart in restoring its natural rhythm by sending an electric shock.

Hansen added that if CPR is not administered, "the chances of survival fall 10% per minute." Blood does not pump through the body of a person who is experiencing a cardiac arrest, therefore putting him at risk for neurologic injury. It is vital to perform CPR and get immediate medical help once a cardiac arrest takes place.

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