British Heart Foundation Warns of Lacking CPR Knowledge

After a recent survey conducted by the Warwick Medical School and funded by the British Heart Foundation found that 86 percent of people in the north west were reluctant to perform CPR on cardiac arrest victims, experts have shown grave concern.

The British Heart Foundation has warned that lacking CPR knowledge could be preventing numerous lives from being saved each year. Other areas of the country revealed similar results, with a large proportion of people being unwilling to step in.

Chief executive of the British Heart Foundation, Simon Gillespie, commented: ‘CPR may be the difference between life and death for hundreds of people every year in the north west who suffer a cardiac arrest. Every second counts, and it simply isn’t enough to hope that someone who knows CPR is present.’

The British Heart Foundation’s report stated that this unwillingness is sparked by a fear of causing more harm than good and simply the lack of skills to perform the task. Unfortunately, this apprehension could in fact be costing more lives. The benefits of performing CPR, despite lack of training, far outweigh the risks.

There are 30,000 instances of cardiac arrest that occur outside hospitals on a yearly basis in the UK. Survival rates for such instances are worryingly low, with only one in 10 sufferers surviving. Every minute a victim is left without defibrillation or CPR, their chances of recovery are reduced by 10 percent. In fact, if patients receive no support before paramedics arrive, survival rates are almost zero.

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Professor of critical care medicine at the University of Warwick, Gavin Perkins, reiterates the importance of these basic skills: ‘CPR is a vital step in the chain of survival after a cardiac arrest. The chance of surviving is almost zero if people collapse and receive no bystander CPR until the emergency services arrive. Thousands of deaths could be prevented if more people learn CPR.’

This revelation came on Restart a Heart Day (16th October). Each year, this day is funded with the support of European parliament to promote CPR and facilitate BLS courses in schools and public institutions. As part of the scheme, 150,000 young people across Britain will improve their CPR knowledge with practical lessons on the latest techniques. Emergency institutions such as the Resuscitation Council, St John Ambulance, British Red Cross, Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue Service, North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) and the UK NHS ambulance service will all be pitching in to do their bit for the cause.

Along with promoting confidence to perform this life-saving technique, the day also aims to make the signals of cardiac arrest common knowledge. These include the collapse of the victim, lack of or difficulty breathing and being unresponsive. The same survey found that only 22 percent of people in the north west were able to identify these key signs.

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