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Are you trained in CPR? Only 3.5 percent of people are each year

Posted December 3, 2014

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— If someone suffers cardiac arrest, the chance that someone nearby knows lifesaving CPR is not good. Every year, only about 3.5 percent of people are trained in the technique, and that's worse in many rural areas.

CPR, Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation, is a life-saving measure that can help someone who is unconscious, not breathing and doesn’t have a pulse.

A few weeks ago, Duke cardiologist Dr. Monique Anderson was speaking about CPR at the American Heart Association Conference in Chicago. As she returned to her hotel, she and a colleague were met with a surprise.

“There was a gentleman face down, and I think both of us looked at each other, briefly asking ourselves if what we were seeing was real,” she recalled.

Her colleague, cardiologist Dr. Eric Peterson called 911 while Anderson checked the man's airway and vital signs and then performed hands-only CPR – 100 compressions per minute, two inches deep.

“And it wasn't long after that that he started moaning and sat bolt upright and said he's OK,” she said.

Soon, an EMS crew arrived.

“We know that for every minute that passes when a person is collapsed, there's a decrease in survival of about 10 percent,” Anderson said.

A Duke study on CPR readiness, presented at that same conference, showed that rates of bystander CPR have improved over the past four years, from 40 percent of patients who need it to 50 percent. Anderson says that's still not enough.

“Really, all adult Americans without any limitations should know CPR and should know hands-only CPR, because you just never know when something like this will happen,” she said.

The American Heart Association and the American Red Cross do the majority of CPR training in the U.S.

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