Dismal Fate For Cardiac Arrest Victims As Two Thirds Afraid To Act

If you have a heart attack, will you be in safe hands?

The British Heart Foundation NI is urging all secondary schools to commit to teaching CPR to stem needless loss of life.

More than two thirds (66%) of people in Northern Ireland would not be confident in performing immediate CPR if someone suffered a cardiac arrest in front of them, dramatically reducing their chance of survival, British Heart Foundation (BHF) Northern Ireland has warned.

love the downe_iconResearchers at the University of Warwick funded by the charity revealed that bystanders who witness a cardiac arrest perform CPR in only four out of ten cases1, meaning the majority of victims have little chance of survival.

This compares with intervention rates of up to three quarters (73%) in Norway2, where survival rates are up to three times as high.

Every minute without CPR or defibrillation can reduce a person’s chance of survival by around ten per cent but victims often have to wait several minutes because of the public’s lack of knowledge and fear of helping.

In many cases where people do take action, bystanders had to be prompted by emergency service operators to act, delaying vital CPR and further reducing the chance of survival. After ten minutes without CPR or defibrillation a victim can have at best a two per cent chance of surviving.

A survey by BHF NI reveals in Northern Ireland:

Just over a third (34%) of people would be confident in performing immediate CPR if someone suffered a cardiac arrest in front of them. The majority (66%) of people said they would be worried about knowing what to do if they witnessed someone collapse and suffer a cardiac arrest in front of them 59% of those said they feared they would make things worse by helping Only 18% of people were able to identify the signs that someone has had a cardiac arrest.

With around 1,400 out of hospital cardiac arrests Northern Ireland every year, but less than one in ten surviving, the BHF warns that the failure by bystanders to intervene is needlessly costing lives every day.

If survival rates improved to match those in Norway, where CPR is taught more widely, an additional 5,000 lives could be saved every year in the UK. To tackle this needless loss of life, on Friday 16 October which is European Restart a Heart Day, BHF NI is launching its ‘Mission CPR’ campaign that will see thousands of schoolchildren across the UK learn CPR on the day.

The campaign is part of BHF NI’s Nation of Lifesavers strategy which aims to equip all young people and adults with the CPR skills to save a life.

Jayne Murray, Head of BHF NI said: “When someone collapses after a cardiac arrest, every second counts.

“Knowing simple, CPR skills is vital to ensure that every person has the best chance of survival. It is therefore a huge concern that so few people have the skills and confidence to perform CPR and this is undoubtedly costing lives.

“Through the work of BHF NI more than two thirds of post-primary schools can offer CPR training. But we need to do more. We urge every secondary school in Northern Ireland to teach lifesaving CPR by applying for our free Call Push Rescue training programme.

“We are also calling on the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety and Commissioners to prioritise the funding for the delivery of the community resuscitation strategy launched in July 2014. By funding and implementing this resuscitation strategy families will not needlessly lose loved ones and lives will be saved. .”

Professor Gavin Perkins, from the University of Warwick, said: “Community response to cardiac arrests is absolutely critical to saving lives. Analysis shows that the number of people who attempt resuscitation is less in the UK than in other European countries and as a consequence survival rates here are much lower. Thousands of lives could be saved every year if bystander CPR rates in the UK improved.”

To help BHF NI create a Nation of Lifesavers visit: