Benefits of CPR Outlast Cardiac Arrest

Cardiac Arrest Survivors who Get CPR Live Better

Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on October 06, 2003
From the WebMD Archives

Oct. 6, 2003 -- Cardiac arrest victims who received prompt CPR from a bystander may not have only have their lives thanks to the procedure, but they may also live better down the road.

A new study shows that cardiac arrest survivors who received bystander CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) were more likely to have a higher quality of life one year later than others.

"The study results add to the current knowledge that receiving CPR improves survival and quality of life," says researcher Ian Stiell, MD, chair of emergency health research at the Ottawa Health Research Institute in Ontario, Canada, in a news release.

Nearly 250,000 people in the U.S. die of sudden cardiac arrest each year. The condition occurs when the heart stops beating, and is usually caused by a disruption in the heart's electrical signal.

Only about 5% of victims survive because the there is only a five to 10 minute resuscitation window for CPR or electronic defibrillation to be delivered before death.

CPR Still Works

In the study, researchers looked at more than 8,000 people who suffered a cardiac arrest outside the hospital between 1995 and 2000. Only 4% (316) of these patients survived at least one year after their cardiac arrest.

Among those cardiac arrest survivors, researchers compared the physical and psychological functioning levels of 268 of the patients. They found that cardiac arrest survivors that received CPR were twice as likely to have a very good quality of life compared with others. In fact, citizen-initiated CPR was the only modifiable risk factor associated with a higher quality of life.

Researchers say the findings, published in the Oct. 7 issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, dispute the notion that cardiac arrest survivors are severely disabled.

The study also showed that only 14.3% of the 8,000 cardiac arrest victims had received bystander CPR before going to the hospital.

"We think that bystander CPR is being sadly overlooked," says Stiell. "We're concerned at times that there is too much focus on high-technology solutions. You don't have to be a doctor or nurse -- anyone can do it. You just need your hands and basic training."


Researchers say this association between bystander CPR and improved quality of life and functional outcome in cardiac arrest victims has not previously been identified.

"Given the low rate of citizen-initiated CPR in many communities, we believe that local and national initiatives should vigorously promote the practice of bystander CPR," write the researchers.

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SOURCES: Stiell, I. Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, Oct. 7, 2003; vol 108. News release, American Heart Association.

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