CPR Week: Be One of the Million to Learn About CPR Before June 7th

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In 2007, the US Congress dedicated the first seven days of June as National CPR/AED Awareness Week. The goal this year for the American Heart Association is to get one million people to learn about cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and automated external defibrillators (AEDs) so that more people will know the steps to save a life if someone suddenly collapses from cardiac arrest.

In addition to the American Heart Association, the American Red Cross is also celebrating National CPR Week with an organizational goal of reaching 250,000 people with vital knowledge and skills in response to a life-threatening situation.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of CPR. Although mouth-to-mouth resuscitation was officially recommended for drowning victims in 1740, and the first use of external chest compressions occurred in 1903, the development of the technique that combines the two skills occurred in 1960. The American Heart Association formally endorsed CPR in 1963. Today, when CPR is provided immediately after a sudden cardiac arrest, it can double a victim’s chance of survival.

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An AED is used to administer an electric shock to a person who is experiencing cardiac arrest. Most cardiac arrests are caused by an abnormal heart rhythm called ventricular fibrillation (VF). When this develops, the heart will quiver but cannot effectively pump blood. Defibrillation eliminates the abnormal VF rhythm and allows the normal rhythm to return. AED's are designed so that anyone has the ability to follow the directions to save a life.

More than 300,000 people each year suffer a sudden cardiac arrest and about 170,000 die. Less than ten percent of patients who suffer a cardiac arrest outside of a hospital survive because the majority of patients do not receive CPR from a bystander. The American Heart Association estimates that the chances of surviving an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest drops up to 10% for each minute that passes without defibrillation. After ten minutes without defibrillation, very few people survive.

“CPR and AED training are critical to saving lives,” said Dr. Michael Sayre, chairman of AHA’s Emergency Cardiovascular Care Committee. “CPR Week is one way we hope to increase awareness about cardiac arrest as a significant health problem and get teens and adults to take action so more lives can be saved.”

How you can learn more:
• Playing the “Be the Beat” educational game or watching the Hands-Only CPR video at www.cprweek.org.
• Taking a classroom-based course. To find a course, go to www.americanheart.org/cpr and click on the ECC Class Connector.
• Training on CPR Anytime, a self-directed, at-home CPR kit. Kits can be ordered at www.cpranytime.org.
• ProCPR.org has created a Facebook application to teach people who to perform hands-only CPR, a simplified version released by the AHA in April 2008.
• For less than ten dollars, purchase “First Aid and CPR for Everyone: An Introduction to Lifesaving Skills” at the Red Cross Store.

Once you have learned about CPR, log your experience at www.cprweek.org. A real-time map is tracking the number of people who have taken action in communities nationwide. As of this writing, almost 67,000 people have taken action across the country.

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