New Report Identifies Sudden Cardiac Arrest as a Public Health Crisis; Underscores Need for the Public to Learn CPR and How to Use AEDs

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A newly released report from the American Heart Association indicates the incidence of sudden cardiac arrest occurring outside hospitals in the U.S. remains high and survival rates remain low. The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation urges the public to learn CPR and how to use automated external defibrillators (AEDs) since immediate bystander action can triple the chance of survival.

So many more can survive

So many more can survive

Calling 911, starting CPR, and using the nearest AED can mean the difference between life and death for victims of sudden cardiac arrest.

According to newly released "Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics—2022 Update: A Report from the American Heart Association," every day about 1,000 people will experience a sudden unexpected cardiac arrest. For many victims, there were no prior symptoms of a heart condition.

In a summary of the report, the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation notes that survival rates continue to languish at about 10 percent. Low survival rates are due largely to the fact that there is low public awareness and understanding of the importance of bystander intervention and action. With every passing minute, the chances of survival from sudden cardiac arrest decrease by 10 percent.

When bystanders act quickly by calling 911, starting CPR, and using automated external defibrillators (AEDs) before EMS arrives, survival rates can triple. Since most cases (more than 70 percent) occur in the home, chances are laypeople will be called upon to help save the life of a loved one. The national Call-Push-Shock movement, co-sponsored by the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation, is an initiative designed to educate the public about the importance of these essential lifesaving skills.

According to the AHA report, laypersons initiated CPR in 40 percent of cases, and used AEDs in nine percent of cases in 2020. While the rate of bystander intervention remains low, this represents a slight improvement compared with previous years.

“The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation is dedicated to increasing survival through public awareness, understanding, and education about sudden cardiac arrest,” said Henry Jampel, MD, MHS, Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation Board Chair, Johns Hopkins Hospital professor, and sudden cardiac arrest survivor. “Calling 911, starting CPR, and using the nearest AED can mean the difference between life and death for victims of sudden cardiac arrest,” said Jampel. “If survival rates nationwide increased to 30 percent, 70,000 additional lives could be saved each year.”

About Sudden Cardiac Arrest
Sudden Cardiac Arrest is a life-threatening emergency that occurs when the heart suddenly stops beating. It strikes people of all ages who may seem to be healthy, even children and teens. When SCA happens, the person collapses and doesn’t respond or breathe normally. They may gasp or shake as if having a seizure. SCA leads to death in minutes if the person does not get help right away. Survival depends on people nearby calling 911, starting CPR, and using an automated external defibrillator, or AED, (if available) as soon as possible.

About Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation
Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation is a national community benefit 501(c)(3) organization. Our vision is to eliminate preventable death and disability from sudden cardiac arrest and support people affected by SCA. Our mission is to raise awareness of SCA and promote initiatives that help save lives through education, research, and community. Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation is a proud co-sponsor of the Call-Push-Shock movement.

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Christina Dolan
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