Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) is a crucial lifesaving tool during times of emergency. Despite this, around 70% of Americans are reluctant to perform CPR because they have no training or their knowledge has lapsed as CPR recertification should be updated every year or two. Because of this, people doubt they will be able to perform CPR successfully, despite its importance.

The truth is that CPR can be successful in most cases, doubling or even tripling the chances of survival when performed early enough after cardiac arrest. Today, we’re taking a look at facts and statistics about CPR to get a better understanding of why so many people die and why the success rate could and should be higher.

Cases of cardiac arrest in the U.S. per year

Every year in the United States, around 356,461 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests (OHCAs) occur across all age groups, most of them being adults. Almost 90% of these cases are fatal. To the average reader, this could be interpreted as evidence that CPR is not effective, but this is not the case.

Why do so many people die in this situation? Because only 46% of OHCA victims get CPR from a bystander. And in cases when CPR was performed, it may have come after the heart had been stopped for several minutes. The longer the amount of time between when a person experiences a cardiac arrest and when CPR is initiated, the longer the body goes without circulation of blood and oxygen to the body, increasing the chances of death.

Lives saved by CPR within time periods

Recent statistics have shown that the earlier CPR is performed, the higher the chances of survival after cardiac arrest. Nearly 45 percent of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest victims survived when bystander CPR was administered.

Let’s break down how long it takes for brain damage and brain death to occur after cardiac arrest:

  • 0-4 minutes: brain damage is not likely; chances of survival and health high
  • 4-6 minutes: brain damage could occur; reaching the beginning of brain death
  • 6-10 minutes: brain damage is likely; the person may suffer ongoing issues after being resuscitated
  • 10+ minutes: brain death is likely to occur; very slim chance of person regaining consciousness or surviving at all

As you can see, the sooner you take action, the better the outcomes for a person suffering an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.

CPR rescue by gender

There is a disturbing disparity between the sexes when it comes to CPR being initiated after cardiac arrest. While the rate of the likelihood of assistance at home is similar between males and females, in public, males are more likely to receive help.

In public, 45% of men received CPR assistance after sudden cardiac arrest compared to only 39% of women. Men are 1.23 times more likely to receive assistance from bystanders and their chances of survival are 23% higher compared to women.

In the end, this discrepancy between sexes comes down to the differences in male and female anatomy. Bystanders are reluctant to perform CPR on a woman because women have breasts, which makes some people uncomfortable and unsure as to whether or not they should intervene.

OHCA survival rates between races

Studies have shown that African Americans are almost twice as likely to experience OHCA than Caucasians and their survival rates are twice as poor, even when OHCA occurs in a public space near bystanders. This is also true for Hispanic people.

OHCA survival rates between classes

People from low-income neighborhoods who experience OHCA are statistically less likely to receive CPR assistance from bystanders than people in high-income, mostly Caucasian neighborhoods.

In-home OHCA survival

Seven out of 10 OHCAs happen at home, lowering the chances of bystander CPR assistance and increasing the number of overall OHCA deaths annually in the United States. This explains much of why the death toll remains so high.

Interpreting the CPR stats and facts

Facts and statistics provide basic information about OHCA and survival rates but they do not provide the context needed to interpret the results. Let’s talk about why the survival rate of OHCA is so low and what it says about the success rate of CPR.

  • From the statistics on sex and OHCA survival, we can gather that women are less likely to receive assistance from a bystander because of the discomfort surrounding their anatomy. Breasts are usually regarded in the same way that genitals are. Because of the taboo and cultural opinions surrounding women’s breasts, people find it hard to think clinically and get past their reservations.
  • The vast majority of OHCA cases happen at home. Many people live alone or are often left at home alone by their loved ones. The success rate of CPR is so low because people in these situations either receive no assistance or do not receive CPR during the crucial period that ensures survival.
  • The disparity of bystander assistance and survival between classes and races can sometimes be attributed to a lack of resources. Lower-income neighborhoods may not have access to as many CPR classes or cell phones to call emergency services. Minorities such as African Americans and Hispanics often live in these neighborhoods, so the two can overlap.

In short, CPR is proven to be effective for long-term survival when done properly and in the right window of time after cardiac arrest. The problem is that not enough people know how to perform CPR and those who do may start compressions too late due to personal feelings and doubts. This tragedy needs to be addressed and resolved if we want to truly save lives using CPR.

Where to get proper CPR training

Earlier, we mentioned that about 70% of Americans do not feel confident performing CPR. To give you a better picture of just how big this problem is, look at it this way. About 327.2 million people live in this country. Over 229 million of them are not prepared to help in a cardiac emergency. This is a travesty considering how easy it is to access CPR instruction in the modern age. A lot of people might not know that there is a simple, affordable way to get certified in CPR and first aid. Now, you can do it all online! ProCPR courses from ProTrainings prepare you to help in a cardiac emergency for as low as $39.95. You only pay after passing the class when you are eligible to receive your certificate. It’s easy and, more importantly, it’s the first link in the chain of survival.

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