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If you know anything about how scary cardiac arrests are, you likely want to know if there’s anything you can do to help if it happens. Cardiac arrests are more than just scary, they are deadly. Knowing how to increase survival rates for cardiac arrests means you can feel confident if you’re ever in the position to help a victim, you can.

When cardiac arrest happens in a hospital, there are many trained medical professionals who can help, and they have access to the most advanced diagnostic and treatment equipment. So when we address the question of how to increase survival rate for cardiac arrest, we’re talking about those that happen outside a hospital setting.

The American Heart Association estimates that 350,000 people suffer cardiac arrest every year in the US, outside of a hospital. That’s about 1000 people EACH DAY who have these events. The survival rate for those people is shockingly below 12%. Cardiac arrest strikes without warning, and kills in most cases outside the hospital.

One of the best tactics for how to increase survival rates for cardiac arrest is CPR. CPR - or Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation - is a technique that allows anyone to try to keep blood circulating in someone’s body, if their heart has stopped. This can allow emergency responders enough time to reach the victim and take over. Just a few minutes with successfully-performed CPR can truly mean the difference between life and death.

One study of over 30,000 people showed that “any type of CPR was associated with doubled survival rates in comparison with cases not receiving CPR before emergency medical services arrival.” In looking at this finding, anything that doubles survival rates is worth a substantial amount of attention. However, this finding might also lead to a question: what does it mean when researchers say “any type of CPR”?

Many people think of CPR as a 2 part process: chest compressions and rescue breaths. When the first mass training of CPR was held in Seattle in 1972, these 2 parts were taught. Subsequently, that combination training and performing of CPR was standard for almost 40 years. Then, in the last decade or so, there’s been a shift towards CPR that involves only chest compressions. This type of CPR is easier to perform, and it has been shown to be significantly effective in helping to save lives.

If CPR is key to how to increase survival rates for cardiac arrests, why isn’t it being performed all the time?

First, we see that often CPR is not performed properly. Even in instances where someone tries to perform CPR, they may not succeed. There are 2 primary reasons for this: lack of training and fear of causing injury, like a broken rib. Additionally, there is a notable barrier to CPR being performed quickly on female patients because of hesitancy in removing a female’s clothing. However, there are tools available to make CPR easier to perform and more effective. The most innovative and potentially life-saving of these is called ResQR.

ResQR empowers the person performing CPR to act quickly and confidently. How? ResQR guides the rescuer in applying the right amount of force, and helping to protect against rib fracture. The design of ResQR distributes the force of the hands over a wider area allowing for both effective compressions and a reduced risk of injury to the ribs. Even those who’ve been recently trained in CPR may be hesitant or unsure of the technicalities like hand placement, when under the stress of a life-or-death situation. ResQR is designed to guide their hand position so they can confidently and correctly begin compressions.

Finally, while CPR classes often teach you to sing “Staying Alive” - or another well known song - in your head to pace your compressions, there’s now a more reliable method. ResQR uses a metronome and LED light to guide the rescuer in timing their compressions correctly.

To encourage the fast start of CPR that’s necessary for the best results, ResQR provides a modesty cover that allows rescuers to feel more comfortable removing clothing from a woman before starting CPR. ResQR is a tool that truly can answer the question of how to increase survival rates for cardiac arrest. You can learn more or shop for ResQR here.

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