Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation Urges the Public to Learn CPR and How to Use a Defibrillator During National CPR-AED Awareness Week

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Sudden cardiac arrest is a public health crisis. The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation has issued a call to action, urging the public to commit to learn CPR and how to use an automated external defibrillator during the first week of June, National CPR-AED Awareness Week.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest Survivors

These sudden cardiac arrest survivors were saved by CPR, an AED and someone like you

We urge everyone to be prepared for sudden cardiac arrest by learning CPR and how to use an automated external defibrillator.

America is facing a public health crisis. More than 350,000 people suffer sudden cardiac arrest outside hospitals each year in the U.S., including 7,000 children. Unfortunately, 90 percent of cases are fatal. According to a recent report from the Institute of Medicine, cardiac arrest is the third leading cause of death in the U.S.

Why do so few victims survive? For one thing, there often are no warning signs. Sudden, unexpected cardiac arrest frequently is the first symptom of a life-threatening heart condition.

For another, while many victims could be revived with CPR and the use of automated external defibrillators (AEDs), the public, in general, does not realize that survival often depends on immediate action by bystanders. Since the chances of survival decrease by 7 to 10 percent with each passing minute after the victim becomes unconscious, it is critical for people who witness the arrest to act quickly and decisively.

Unfortunately, only one-third of cardiac arrest victims receive CPR from bystanders and fewer than five percent are treated with AEDs before EMS arrives at the scene. Yet survival rates could double or triple if more people knew what to do when cardiac arrest occurs. In fact, 70,000 additional lives could be saved each year.

In addition, the myth of the “massive heart attack” continues to deter bystander action. People often report that a friend or relative had a “massive heart attack,” suggesting that nothing could have been done to save the victim. In reality, however, many of these events are actually cases of sudden cardiac arrest, a reversible condition.

The first week of June is National CPR-AED Awareness Week. The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation urges the public to commit this week to learn CPR and how to use an AED.
Anyone can save a life by following these simple steps:
1. Recognize the emergency. When someone suddenly collapses and stops breathing normally, he or she is likely experiencing cardiac arrest. It is not unusual for the person to exhibit seizure-like activity.
2. Call 9-1-1 and follow dispatcher instructions.
3. Start CPR. Press hard and fast on the center of the chest at a rate of 100 beats per minute (e.g., to the tune of ‘Stayin Alive’ by the BeeGees).
4. Use the nearest AED as quickly as possible. AEDs are designed for use by untrained bystanders. Simply turn on the device and follow instructions.

“You can save a life,” said Mary M. Newman, MS, Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation president. “We urge everyone to be prepared for sudden cardiac arrest by learning CPR and how to use an automated external defibrillator.”

To watch a powerful motivational video, click here. To watch an instructional CPR video from the University of Michigan, winner of a Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation/ Citizen CPR Foundation video contest, click here. For more information, visit

About the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation

The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation is a national community benefit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to raising awareness about sudden cardiac arrest and saving lives. Programs include educational outreach through its website, e-newsletters, social media, programs for secondary schools and colleges, and an online community for survivors and their families, those who have lost loved ones to SCA, and healthcare providers. The Foundation also conducts and facilitates cardiac arrest research.

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Carissa O'Brien

Mary Newman
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