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Surviving Cardiac Arrest in 38 Minutes

More than 280,000 people suffer cardiac arrest each year, with 80 percent of those cases occurring outside the hospital. As a result, survival rates are very low – less than 10 percent, according to the American Heart Association. However, new research presented at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions this week in Dallas finds CPR performed for at least 38 minutes can improve survival rates and increase the likelihood normal brain function will be protected.

Researchers determined this by tracking out-of-hospital cardiac arrest patients in Japan from 2005-2011. Spontaneous circulation (also known as CPR), or the body pumping blood throughout the body on its own, is a key to survival and preserving brain function after cardiac arrest. In the study, participants who were identified as having normal brain function received spontaneous circulations within 13 minutes of collapse. If the period of time between collapse and CPR was 21 minutes or longer, patients were more likely to experience severe brain function loss.

Researchers determined there was a 5 percent decrease in brain damage for every minute that passed without CPR. Based on this equation, they determined CPR for at least 38 minutes is optimal to protect brain health after cardiac arrest.

Just one minute to save a life

When it comes to remembering the CPR protocol taught in high school, some people may not know where to start. However, researchers have found that on-the-fly, one-minute tutorial videos are effective to train the public how to help save a life with compression-only CPR. 

Earlier this year, the American Heart Association published an entertaining but real-world-scenario video of a sports fan collapsing at a game. A knowledgeable fan knows what to do – tell someone to call 911 and begin hands-only CPR until paramedics arrive.

The video is fun, but it is also memorable. As evidence continues to show the importance of initiating CPR as soon as possible and for as long as possible until paramedics arrive, these tactics save lives. Share this blog with your friends and family to help spread the word.