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Mandating CPR and AED training in schools could help improve cardiac arrest outcomes

More lives could be saved if people have proper emergency training

CPR training concept
Photo (c) Stevica Mrdja EyeEm - Getty Images
A new study conducted by researchers from the American College of Cardiology explored how bystander CPR (BCPR) and automated external defibrillator (AED) training may help cardiac arrest patients. According to their findings, requiring emergency training in schools could help improve CPR and AED rates and improve cardiac arrest outcomes. 

“BCPR and AED use rates remain low in the U.S.,” said researcher Dr. Victoria Vetter. “Lack of knowledge of CPR and AED use results in failure to perform these life-saving skills when needed.” 

Knowledge of CPR and AED is powerful

The researchers' main goal was to see whether training for CPR and AED affected outside-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) patient outcomes. They pulled information from the Cardiac Arrest Registry to Enhance Survival (CARES) dataset from January 2013, through December 2020, which included information on all OHCAs across the country. Throughout the study, 39 of 50 states required CPR and AED training in high school. 

Out of 20 states that were examined, the researchers learned that those with laws mandating CPR and AED training had better patient outcomes for OHCAs. The study showed that BCPR occurred in less than 40% of OHCA cases in states with no mandates, whereas BCPR occurred in nearly 42% of OHCA cases in states with training mandates. 

The study also showed that states who had these laws for longer periods of time had better outcomes. BCPR and AED use rates were higher with each year that CPR training laws were in place at high schools.

Moving forward, the researchers plan to get more state-specific data about CPR training mandates and the ways that individual communities can get better at handling OHCAs. The team says consumers in low-income areas may experience the greatest benefits from this important training. 

“Targeting student populations in underserved and minority communities with low rates of BCPR should help by providing a trained group of individuals who live in the communities, decreasing these health disparities,” Dr. Vetter said. “High school students will become the next generation of bystanders who can provide CPR and AED use, once they are educated. Those trained as students are likely to be in homes or community sites where cardiac arrests commonly occur.” 

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