Dr Kevin R. Campbell
Chief Medical Correspondent, Bold.Global
Nearly 500K Americans die from sudden cardiac death every single year. It is clear from numerous studies that by stander CPR saves lives. The out of hospital survival rate from Sudden Cardiac death is less than 10% in the US today. With quick initiation of CPR and the use of an Automated Electronic Defibrillator (AED) these survival rates can double or triple. According to the AHA, the survival rate with bystander CPR approached 46% as compared to less than 10% thus far in 2016.
But just how many of us actually are trained in CPR?
Currently only 30% of Americans are trained in CPR and are comfortable acting in an emergency. In regions of the country such as Seattle where there have been a focus on community education, CPR rates and sudden death survival rates have significantly improved.
Just this week, an employee of a Washington DC company was trained in CPR at work. The very next day at a board meeting, she was able to put her skills to work—and saved the life of a co-worker. While attending a meeting at work, Danette Purvis noticed a co-worker had become unresponsive. She immediately put her newly acquired CPR skills into action and saved her co-workers life that day. During the incident, her colleagues acted as well—one person called 911 and another colleague grabbed the AED and placed it on the collapsed co worker. The key to survival in this case was the quick initiation of CPR and the use of the AED.
What is CPR or cardiopulmonary resuscitation?
CPR was developed in the 1960s and officially endorsed by the American Heart Association a year later. It was initially developed as mouth to mouth ventilation in response to needs for battlefield treatment years before–Chest compressions were added in 1960. In 1970, Seattle began a city wide training initiative and nearly 100K people were trained in 2 years by only one instructor. CPR is a way for bystanders to combine chest compressions to circulate blood to the brain and other organs as well as mouth-to-mouth rescue breathing in order to provide oxygen to the lungs during an arrest. Modern CPR training is now focusing on “hands only” CPR where priority is given to chest compressions. As a rule we shoot for 120 compressions a minute and teach students to sing “Staying Alive” as a guide to how quickly to provide the compressions.
Who Can and Should Learn CPR?
I believe that every American should learn CPR. WE should be teaching our children CPR in school as part of the mandatory curriculum. Nearly 88% of all cardiac arrests occur at home—so the life you save is likely to be a friend or family. CPR is offered in most communities through the American Heart Association in cooperation with local hospital systems. It is vital that we begin to train more people in order to improve outcomes in victims of cardiac arrest.
What is the role of the AED?
Most cardiac arrests are due to an abnormal heart rhythm called ventricular fibrillation. When this occurs, the heart no longer beats effectively and blood flow to the brain and other organs stop. An AED or Automatic External Defibrillator is a tool that ANY bystander can use in order to help resuscitate a patient in ventricular fibrillation. The device is completely automated. Once you open the device it verbally instructs you to place pads on the patient and advises if an electrical shock is needed. The device then will shock the patient for you in order to restart the heart rhythm. AED training is now included in basic CPR training classes and is an essential part of saving cardiac arrest victims. In general, AEDs should be available in any public place including schools, theaters, restaurants and churches.
Be A Hero!
Sudden Cardiac Death is the leading killer of Americans today. Through better education and more widespread training, we can all help to significantly impact survival rates. Just as Ms Purvis put her training in to action only ONE DAY after each of you will be able to make a difference. When a person suffers a cardiac arrest, the time it takes to restore a normal heart rhythm and circulation is critical. Make a difference—get trained and be ready to respond when you see a potential victim. Remember, the life you save, may be someone you know….
Dr Kevin Campbell, MD, FACC is chief medical correspondent for Bold.global. Dr. Campbell is an internationally recognized Cardiologist who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of heart rhythm disorders. Dr. Campbell is the Medical Expert for WNCN and appears weekly on the CBS morning news and also makes frequent appearances nationally on Fox News, CBS, and HLN.