CPR bystanders_Blog

It has long been known that bystander CPR gives cardiac arrest victims the best chance for survival. Now, a new study suggests cardiac arrest survivors are also more likely to return to work if they receive bystander CPR.

Sudden cardiac arrest is the abrupt loss of heart function and can occur in people with or without diagnosed heart disease. CPR performed immediately can double or triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival, according to the American Heart Association.

The study, published Monday in the AHA journal Circulation, is the largest to date to examine return to work after cardiac arrest. Researchers studied 4,354 patients in Denmark who were employed before they suffered out-of-hospital cardiac arrests between 2001 and 2011.

Researchers found that more than 75 percent of survivors who had a cardiac arrest outside a hospital could return to work, and the odds of returning to work were about 40 percent higher for survivors who had received bystander CPR compared to those who did not.

“We already know CPR helps save lives — and now our findings suggest there is even more benefit in performing it,” said the study’s lead author Kristian Kragholm, M.D., a clinical assistant at Aalborg University Hospital and Aarhus University in Aalborg, Denmark, and a fellow at the Duke Clinical Research Institute in Durham, North Carolina.

CPR saved Michelle Johnston in 2009 after she came home from the grocery store, collapsed in front of her daughter and was saved by her husband. She said CPR is the only reason she’s alive today.

“What I don’t think people realize when you’re giving someone CPR is that you’re their heart pumper,” said Johnston, 43, of Shelburne, Vermont. “Whether you’re a bystander or a first responder, you need to get that blood flowing until someone can come along with an [automated external defibrillator].”

About 326,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in the United States each year, according to the AHA’s 2015 statistics report. Cardiac arrest can occur instantly or shortly after symptoms appear.

“When a bystander performs CPR quickly, it helps ensure enough oxygen is getting to the brain, which can help minimize brain damage and lead to that person being able to return to work,” Kragholm said.

During the study period, Denmark implemented several CPR initiatives, including a requirement that anyone receiving a driver’s license after 2006 become certified in basic life support.

Since 2009, healthcare professionals have been employed in emergency dispatch call centers, guiding bystanders who perform CPR. Plus, the number of basic life support certificates issued nearly doubled during the 10-year study.