Cardiac arrest, which is defined as the sudden and unexpected loss of heart function that typically results from an electrical disturbance in the heart, is associated with some alarming statistics. In total, cardiac arrest is responsible for over 500,000 deaths in the United States every year. About 326,000 cases of emergency medical services-assessed cardiac arrest occur outside of a hospital, and the survival rate is one in 10. However, the most surprising statistic of all is that even though bystander CPR can increase the chances of survival for someone experiencing cardiac arrest by two or three times, the American Heart Association says that fewer than half of all Americans receive any form of CPR training.
A recently released report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) aims to address this statistic through a number of strategies which, if implemented, could help save the lives of 50,000 people who experience cardiac arrest each year. One such strategy is to develop public awareness of cardiac arrest and the need for more widespread CPR training. This follows significant public awareness and training efforts that have already been undertaken by organizations such as the American Heart Association, in particular, to increase CPR training in schools. Recently, Connecticut announced that as of July 1, 2016, CPR will be a graduation requirement for all high school students. Due to this new policy, Connecticut joins 23 other states that have also passed school CPR requirements.
In addition to expanding CPR training, another priority outlined in the IOM report is the creation of a national cardiac arrest registry. According to the incoming chair of the emergency cardiovascular care committee of the American Heart Association, such a registry, which would combine a variety of data from different states and research groups, is a critical step in measuring and analyzing the incidence of cardiac arrest, and thus improving response and care delivery.