American Heart Association launches initiative to close CPR knowledge gap, save lives
A new survey conducted by the American Heart Association, which is marking one hundred years of service saving lives, suggests that increased visibility of the need for CPR has had a positive impact on someone's willingness to respond if they are bystanders in a cardiac emergency. However, there remains a significant gap in awareness that emphasizes the urgent need for collaboration between governments, communities, businesses and the media to promote and provide lifesaving training.
To help close this gap, the American Heart Association, a global force for healthier lives for all, is building a Nation of Lifesavers™, heroes-in-waiting with the knowledge, skills and confidence to perform CPR and become a vital link in the chain of survival, making our communities healthier and safer for everyone.
The survey, conducted in fall 2023, indicates that although 35% of respondents have the confidence to perform CPR when needed, an increase from 30% in 2021, only 39% of those surveyed are familiar with conventional CPR and only 23% with Hands-Only CPR. According to the American Heart Association, fewer than half of people suffering out-of-hospital cardiac arrest receive the immediate CPR they need before professional help arrives. Approximately 90% of the 350,000 people who experience a cardiac arrest outside of the hospital each year will not survive. Additionally, more than 23,000 children suffer cardiac arrest annually, with nearly 40% happening in conjunction with sports-related activities.
The American Heart Association wants every family to know how to respond and be ready to save the life of loved ones.
"During American Heart Month, we're celebrating all the bold hearts who have made an impact in saving lives through CPR," said Nancy Brown, American Heart Association chief executive officer. "At the American Heart Association, it's our vision to advance health and hope for everyone, everywhere. Children as young as nine can learn CPR and since nearly 3 out of 4 cardiac arrests that do not happen in a hospital, occur in the home, it's critical that all families know how to perform CPR. It's our 100th birthday and our future is about improving yours."
CPR – or cardiopulmonary resuscitation – is an emergency lifesaving procedure performed when the heart stops beating. During American Heart Month, the Association is offering four ways to learn CPR and join the Nation of Lifesavers, as an individual, family, organization or community at heart.org/nation.
- Watch online. Learn the basics of Hands-Only CPR with this instructional video and share it on social media with #NationofLifesavers. Hands-Only CPR has just two simple steps, performed in this order: 1) Call 911 if you see a teen or adult suddenly collapse; and 2) Push hard and fast in the center of the chest to the beat of a familiar song that has 100 to 120 beats per minute.
- Learn at home. Learn basic lifesaving skills in about 20 minutes from the comfort and privacy of home with the CPR Anytime® kits. The Infant CPR Anytime program is for new parents, grandparents, babysitters, nannies and anyone who wants to learn lifesaving infant CPR and choking relief skills. The Adult & Child CPR Anytime Training kit teaches adult/teen Hands-Only CPR, child CPR with breaths, adult and child choking relief and general awareness of automated external defibrillators – or AEDs. CPR Anytime now includes the Adult & Child CPR Anytime Interactive app to provide a comprehensive, self-facilitated training solution in one web-based app that allows students to elevate their CPR and AED training experience through gamification.
- Take a course. Get a group together and find a nearby class to learn the lifesaving skills of CPR, first aid, and AED. Encourage others by sharing on social media with #NationofLifesavers.
- Turn employees into lifesavers. Help make your workplace and community safer one step at a time by forming a Heart Walk team and committing to CPR training for your employees.
With our reach and science-backed CPR training and certification, the American Heart Association has the unique capacity and capability to double the number of lives saved from cardiac arrest, but we can't do it alone. The recent survey tells us that the top reason why participants have not received any form of CPR training is because their employer has not offered it. Companies can impact not only the health of their employees, but also the community by helping employees become lifesavers."
Joseph C. Wu, M.D. Ph.D., FAHA, American Heart Association volunteer president, director of the Stanford Cardiovascular Institute and Simon H. Stertzer Professor of Medicine and Radiology at Stanford School of Medicine
One of the people helping turn a nation of bystanders into a nation of lifesavers is Buffalo Bills safety and cardiac arrest survivor, Damar Hamlin. Since June 2023, Hamlin has served as the national ambassador for the American Heart Association's Nation of Lifesavers. Following his cardiac arrest during Monday Night Football on Jan. 2, 2023, millions of people worldwide have engaged with American Heart Association educational content about CPR.
"You never know when it's going to be your opportunity to step in and save a life. CPR and AEDs are why I'm here today," says Hamlin in a newly released video shared on the Association website. "The mission of the Nation of Lifesavers is simple…when someone needs CPR, people can be well equipped to save a life. Someone who can save a life, that's a superpower if you ask me."