Pennsylvania: More than 350,000 Americans suffer from out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) each year. It strikes at work, in the grocery store, on the soccer field, and even at home, where it’s critical for bystanders to take quick action by performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). But only 32 percent of cardiac arrest victims nationwide receive the lifesaving intervention. New research from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania sheds light on training gaps that could pave the way to boosting the number of people who are prepared to jump into action.
The Penn team will present findings at the American Heart
Association Scientific Sessions 2016 from a survey which revealed older
Americans – those who are most likely to be stricken by SCA – and those
with less education and lower household incomes are least likely to
have received CPR training.
“We uncovered that those who are most at risk for SCA are the least
likely to be trained to act in an emergency situation,” said the
study’s senior author Benjamin Abella, MD, MPhil,
director of Penn’s Center for Resuscitation Science and an associate
professor of Emergency Medicine. “While some of these older adults may
have been CPR trained at some point in their lives, likely when they
were much younger, when bystander CPR can be the difference between
someone living or dying, these seniors may not be comfortable employing
their dated CPR skills.”
The team sought to identify factors that may influence whether
people receive CPR training, by administering a telephone survey.
During a two-month period in 2015, 9,022 individuals completed the
survey, which included calls to both landline and mobile phone numbers,
and were conducted in English or Spanish. Of these participants—a
statistically representative sample of the United States population—65
percent had been trained in CPR at some point in their lives and 18
percent has been trained in the last two years.
Those who are 60 years and older are roughly 50 percent less likely
to be trained in CPR, as compared to those under the age of 49.
Similarly, those whose highest level of education is a high school
diploma were more than five times more likely to never have been CPR
trained, as compared to those with graduate degrees – of which only
seven percent had never been trained. And those with a household income
of less than 15,000 were nearly 50 percent less likely to be currently
trained in CPR as compared to those with a household income between
30,000 and 74,999.
“This data will enable us to hone in on which demographics tend to
be less trained, and take proactive steps to target these populations
with training initiatives,” said lead author Audrey Blewer, MPH,
assistant director for Educational Programs in Penn’s Center for
Resuscitation Science and a doctoral candidate in Epidemiology at Penn.
Researchers note that most cardiac arrests occur in the home, where
only a spouse, friend or neighbor may be there to act. Abella said,
“If a 67-year-old has an SCA at their house and only their 68-year-old
spouse is home, the likelihood that their spouse would be able to
intervene with CPR is low, based on our data. Ultimately, the more we
can train the older population, the better off many people who
experience an SCA will be.”
The researchers suggest that by bringing CPR training to older
adults, whether at work, senior living communities, or community
centers, health care professionals will be able to increase the number
of CPR trained adults – and move the needle on the number of SCA victims
who will get a chance at surviving.
Additional Penn authors on this study include Said Ibrahim, Marion
Leary, and David Dutwin. This study was supported by a Mentored
Clinical and Population Award from the American Heart Association
This study will be presented on Sunday, November 13, 2016 at 3:15 PM (CST) in room 203-205.