Improving CPR training could save more lives than any potential advances in science, according to a recent statement from the American Heart Association. The statement was published in Circulation and highlights the importance of CPR for treating sudden cardiac arrest.
CPR, which stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation, is an emergency life-saving technique used when the heart suddenly stops beating. It includes a combination of chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth breaths, or chest compressions only for hands-only CPR. Studies show that performing CPR can double or even triple the chances of survival after sudden cardiac arrest.
The challenge, however, is making sure that as many people as possible are properly trained in CPR.
Each year, more than 500,000 cardiac arrests occur in the United States. These events can occur anywhere—at home, at work or in public places. When they do, having someone nearby who is trained in CPR could mean the difference between life and death.
Unfortunately, authors note that online and face-to-face CPR courses are not standardized. Therefore, not everyone who learns CPR gets the same quality of information.
For example, some courses may involve more practice than others, which increases the likelihood that participants will understand and feel confident in CPR techniques. Courses can also vary in how many times they have participants repeat key lessons, which helps ensure that they retain the information after the training. Repeat lessons are important, according to authors, as many individuals can forget their training within weeks or months after their CPR course.
Fortunately, experts offer a number of recommendations for improving CPR courses, such as spacing out trainings, providing feedback to participants, and giving context about the importance of CPR and how it works. Together, they believe these strategies can help improve survival after sudden cardiac arrest both in and out of the hospital.
Ultimately, authors note that all CPR courses have the same goal, which is “increasing the likelihood that the learner will be able to save a life during a cardiac arrest event when seconds matter.” Incorporating techniques like feedback and spaced learning could help participants retain information during CPR trainings, which experts hope will in turn increase survival rates after sudden cardiac arrest.