Heart disease remains the leading cause of death and disability in the United States, claiming an average of one death per minute. Many of these are sudden deaths due to a heart attack and occur outside of the hospital.
Even with the best emergency medical service system, rescue personnel usually require several minutes or more to reach the scene. A critical factor in determining survival from a cardiac arrest is the amount of time that elapses prior to the initiation of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Survival can be significantly increased if CPR can be started by a lay person within four minutes of the cardiac arrest.
In Orange County, less than 5% of prehospital cardiac arrest patients have CPR initiated by a bystander. In Seattle, where many individuals have been trained in CPR through a concerted public effort, residents who sustain a cardiac arrest have an improved change of survival. All family members of persons with heart disease should know CPR.
We can have the same success in Orange County through community education. An opportunity to learn CPR will be offered on Saturday, Sept. 27, at the UC Irvine campus.