The surprising estimation that could save more than 100,000 lives every year

Cardiac arrest is one of the more life threatening conditions we teach you to recognise and deal with in our first aid training.

In simple terms, cardiac arrest is where the heart stops pumping blood around the body. This can happen due to a number of different reasons but without intervention, this will lead quickly to unconsciousness and eventually death. Around 350,000 people in Europe suffer cardiac arrest every year whilst not in hospital. It’s important to mention that they’re not in hospital at the time as these are people who are at home, at work or just going about their everyday business. These people are different to those in hospital who may already be very ill and perhaps more likely to suffer cardiac arrest due to other factors.
Statistically, less than 10% of these people who suffer an out of hospital cardiac arrest will survive.

CPR makes all the difference

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a procedure performed by someone providing chest compressions and sometimes rescue breaths to the casualty. The aim of this is to pump some oxygenated blood around the body until an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is brought to the casualty, which has the potential to get the heart beating normally again.

As you may have guessed, it is usually non-medically trained bystanders who are present when a person suffers cardiac arrest out of hospital.

CPR performed immediately by bystanders increases a person’s chances of survival by 2 to 3 times. Unfortunately, at the moment, CPR is delivered by bystanders in only 1 in 5 out of hospital cardiac arrests.

Your chance of survival depends on what country you’re in

Your chance of survival is affected hugely by which country you are in, even within Europe. In the UK, if you suffer cardiac arrest outside of the hospital environment, you have less than a 10% chance of living long enough to leave hospital. If you were to suffer cardiac arrest in Norway, for example, you’d have about a 40% chance of living long enough to leave hospital. In Norway, everyone is taught first aid at school and around 95% of Norwegians have basic first aid skills. This is in contrast to about 5% of those living in the UK.

“If we could improve rates of bystander CPR in Europe to the levels seen in these best-performing nations, then around 100,000 lives could be saved each year across Europe,” says Prof Castrén of the European Resuscitation Council. “We are certain that if more people were trained (e.g. in key public places such as airports, gyms, hotels etc.) and if more AED’s were placed on strategic points, 50% of the deaths by cardiac arrest could effectively be prevented,” she adds.

How about some good news!?

The good news is that this is an issue that should, in theory, be easy to fix. We just need to teach more people how to recognise someone suffering cardiac arrest and teach them the simple technique of calling for help and performing CPR. The tricky bit is actually getting people to understand why they need this life saving training in the first place.

So, let’s be clear:

  • 350,000 people suffer cardiac arrest in Europe each year. Less than 10% of these people survive;
  • Currently only 1 in 5 casualties receive bystander CPR;
  • If bystanders recognised the cardiac arrest, called for help and performed CPR a person’s chances of survival would increase by 2 to 3 times;
  • If more people were trained in CPR, more than 100,000 lives could be saved every year.

This isn’t a substitute for first aid training. If you’d like to be able to deal with a variety of first aid issues with confidence, book a first aid course in Newcastle, the North East or wherever you need us! Get in touch for more information.