Likelihood of having current CPR training declines with age

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By Anne Harding

Older people are the group most likely to need cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), but they are the least likely to have training in the life-saving technique, according to new findings.

“This mismatch may translate into lives lost, because if someone collapses at home who is 65 years old and their 62-year-old spouse does not know CPR, they have to wait for the ambulance to arrive and it may be too late,” said Dr. Benjamin S. Abella, who directs the Center for Resuscitation Science at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. “We need to be more creative about our approach to CPR training in this population.”

Receiving prompt CPR from a bystander more than doubles a person’s chances of surviving a sudden cardiac arrest, but fewer than one-third of sudden cardiac arrest victims receive bystander CPR, Abella and his team noted in a report in the Journal of the American Heart Association. To better understand low rates of bystander CPR, Abella and his colleagues surveyed a nationally representative sample of about 9,000 U.S. adults on their CPR training status.

Just 18 percent had current training in CPR, while 65 percent said they had received training in the past. The older a study participant was, the less likely he or she was to have current CPR training, or to have ever received CPR training. People with a graduate school education or higher were more than three times as likely have current CPR training. However, lower education and lower household income were both associated with not having received CPR training.

Traditionally, people get certified to perform CPR by attending classes sponsored by the American Heart Association or the American Red Cross, often at universities, schools or hospitals. CPR certification is time-consuming, and can be expensive, Abella told Reuters Health in a telephone interview.

“There’s an important mantra in resuscitation, which is ‘something is better than nothing,’” he added. New ways to teach CPR, he suggested, might be through training offered by video at places where people are going to be waiting anyhow, like the department of motor vehicles, the airport, or the doctor’s office.

“Breaking outside of the classroom and the traditional model of CPR training is going to be important,” Abella said. “There are many locations where we can bring CPR to the public, as opposed to asking the public to come find ways to learn CPR.”

More information about CPR training in the U.S. or worldwide is available from the American Heart Association, here:

SOURCE: The Journal of the American Heart Association, online May 17, 2017.

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