CPR is not the Silver Bullet
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – CPR and AED : The Dynamic Duo in saving lives in cases of sudden cardiac arrest. CPR buys critically needed time for the AED to shock a failing heart back to life.
The importance of CPR in saving lives and the ease of CPR training has gained wide media attention. As a result, more people than ever before are taking training courses and becoming proficient at CPR. However, many times media campaigns and public service spots fail to stress the second critical link in the chain of survival; public awareness of AEDs, training in their use and the direct correlation between their numbers in places where the public gathers and the percentage of lives saved.
In cases of sudden cardiac arrest, time is critical to survival and CPR can buy time to prolong life, but it cannot restart a heart that has stopped beating – only an AED can do that.
The human brain requires oxygen to live. It receives its oxygen from blood pumped over it from the heart. If the heart stops pumping, the brain is no longer being nourished. Irreparable brain damage begins in around 5 minutes and death occurs within 10.
Properly administered CPR pushes down on the heart forcing it to operate as a sort of manual pump, but only at about 25% of normal blood flow. This will slow brain damage somewhat and extend life for a short period of time. The average adult has about enough oxygen rich blood in his or her body to keep the brain alive for around 10 minutes utilizing this manual pumping system.
“The key words here are properly administered CPR” stated Micah Bongberg, President of Annuvia, a nationwide CPR/AED American Heart Association certified training company. “Hands on instruction under the watchful eyes of a certified health care professional imparts the skill necessary to recognize the problem, employ the proper amount of pressure and frequency of compressions, and perhaps most importantly, instills the confidence to utilize these CPR skills in an emergency situation. An alarming percentage of bystanders trained in CPR are reluctant to render aid for fear of harming the victim or are just afraid of becoming involved. Thus self-confidence is a critical factor in CPR training.”
A recent American Heart Association Science Advisory points out that survival rates from out of hospital cardiac arrest vary from 0.2% in Detroit to 16% in Seattle. “For every 30 people who receive bystander CPR, 1 additional life is saved.” That comes out to an average of 3.3%. A one-in-thirty chance of survival is better than zero, but the shock from early defibrillation from an AED could increase the chance of survival by over 70%. That’s why AED awareness and public access AED placement is so important.
“The wide variation in survival rates across the country is directly proportional to organized efforts to train community members in CPR and AED usage and provide readily accessible public access AEDs. Bystander CPR and utilization of public access AEDs are the keys to survival. CPR can delay death, but an AED can restore a heartbeat. It’s no coincidence that Seattle’s aggressive program to place AEDs in public areas where they are readily available and encourage CPR training and action has resulted in the highest save rate in the country.” Bongberg said.
The AHA report states that “Failure to restore a pulse on scene indicates that the patient will not likely survive to hospital discharge, irrespective of the subsequent sophistication of in-hospital care.” The shock from an AED can restore that pulse.
“Increased publicity and effort being given to increasing CPR awareness has and will continue to contribute to an increased number of saves, but only because CPR gives a bystander and potential rescuer a few more precious minutes to employ the lifesaving treatment of an AED. Without the AED chances of survival are dismal.” Bongberg concluded.