First aid can save 1,000 heart attack victims a year

07 March 2017

New research has estimated that 1,000 lives could be saved every year if the general public knew how to administer first aid to heart attack victims.

In a new poll by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), it was found that only four out of 10 people in the U.K. would attempt first aid on someone suffering a cardiac arrest. This is significantly lower than in Norway, where seven in 10 people would attempt first aid, which has led to a three times higher rate of survival from heart attacks.

The chances of surviving a cardiac arrest drop by around 10 per cent for every minute the person does not get help, and after 10 minutes with no assistance the survival rate is just two per cent.

“Cardiac arrest survival rates in England are disappointingly low and have remained so for many years,” BHF medical director Professor Sir Nilesh Samani said. “There is potential to save thousands of lives but we urgently need to change how we think about cardiac arrest care.”

In the report, titled Resuscitation To Recovery, it was found that waiting for an ambulance and not engaging in first aid means there is a higher chance of death, as precious minutes are lost waiting for the medical professionals.

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There are two main ways to save lives; cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillation. CPR combines chest compression with artificial ventilation to make the heart pump blood around the body. The second method uses a portable machine called a defibrillator that gives out electric shocks to get the heart working again. They can be used by untrained members of the public and are normally located near busy places like supermarkets and shopping centres, and feature a recorded message with instructions.

“It's clear that we need a revolution in CPR by educating more people in simple lifesaving skills and the use of external defibrillators, and for the subsequent care of a resuscitated patient to be more consistent and streamlined,” Professor Samani continued.

© Cover Media

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