Seven in 10 people in America say they feel powerless to act in the face of a cardiac emergency. As a result, less than half of all people who need this lifesaving skill receive CPR from bystanders before professional help arrives. On this first day of National CPR and AED Awareness Week, the American Heart Association is challenging everyone to join the Nation of Lifesavers and commit to make CPR and AED (automated external defibrillator) awareness and education a permanent fixture in all communities across the country.
More than 350,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in the United States each year, according to the Association, which is working to increase the number of bystanders who use CPR in an emergency. More than 90% of people who experience a cardiac arrest outside of the hospital will not survive. The Association is the world’s leading voluntary organization dedicated to building healthier lives for all, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.
“Through our science, brand, and grassroots footprint, the American Heart Association has the unique capacity and capability to lead with instruction and policy change across all 50 states,” said American Heart Association volunteer Dr. Christina Dascenzo, PharmD, RPh. “Our moment is here. Let’s meet it and build a nation of lifesavers.”
The Association is committed to turning a nation of bystanders into lifesavers. The new multi-year initiative will ensure teens and adults can learn about CPR and AED use, share that knowledge with friends and family and engage employers, policymakers, philanthropists and others to create support for a nation of lifesavers. The long-term goal: to ensure that in the face of a cardiac emergency, anyone, anywhere is prepared and empowered to perform CPR and become a vital link in the chain of survival.
Creating a Nation of Lifesavers means the Association will simultaneously focus on efforts to drive policy change at both the federal and state levels. The Association has endorsed the federal Access to AEDs Act, which would create a grant program for K-12 schools to provide CPR and AED training; purchase AEDs; and create cardiac emergency response plans that establish specific steps to reduce death from cardiac arrest in school settings.
Hands-Only CPR is chest compression only CPR. Science has shown that following a witnessed cardiac arrest of a teen or an adult, compression-only CPR can be equally effective in the first few minutes of emergency response. If a teen or adult suddenly collapses, witnesses should immediately call emergency services and begin chest compressions at a rate of 100-120 beats per minute and a depth of at least two inches. The Association encourages everyone, regardless of where they live, to take 90 seconds to learn how to save a life now at www.heart.org/HandsOnlyCPR.
In 2009, the American Heart Association launched a nationwide Hands-Only CPR campaign to raise awareness about this life-saving skill. Since 2012, over 10.5 million people have learned Hands-Only CPR via events, training kiosks and video education with the support of Elevance Health Foundation.
For additional ways to raise awareness during National CPR and AED Awareness Week, visit heart.org/CPRWeek.