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Global Health Thought Leadership

Empowering Future Lifesavers Through Hands-Only CPR

The American Heart Association aims to inspire the metro Atlanta community to learn Hands-Only CPR

Like so many, our eyes were on the Cincinnati Bengals’ field the night of January 2nd. Buffalo Bill’s player Damar Hamlin suffered from a cardiac arrest and it was this moment that proved the significance of the lifesaving skill of CPR. 

As traumatic as this incident was for everyone, especially Damar’s family and teammates – as well as the first responders and those watching live or on TV, being ready and prepared to respond on the ground in seconds likely changed outcomes for Damar.  

According to American Heart Association data, more than 350,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in the United States each year. CPR, especially if performed immediately, can double or triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival – which is key since about 90% of people who suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrests die. And, because about 70% of cardiac arrests happen at home, odds are the person who needs CPR will be a family member or friend1. Hands-Only CPR is quick and simple to learn and can be performed by any family member or bystanders.  

“If you are called on to give CPR in an emergency, you will most likely be trying to save the life of a loved one: a spouse, a parent, grandparent, child or a friend,” said Marcus Brown, M.D., president of the Metro Atlanta American Heart Association Board of Directors and Interventional Cardiologist at Northside Hospital. “To be prepared for a cardiac emergency, it is essential to learn Hands-Only CPR to help save lives.”  

In Metro Atlanta, bystander CPR rates hover around 41%, which means that a patient who is in cardiac arrest, currently has only about 2 in 5 chance that someone will step in and offer CPR. However, bystander CPR is less common in Black and Hispanic/Latino neighborhoods.

The American Heart Association is committed to strengthening the chain of survival by equipping volunteers, staff and supporters with the lifesaving skills of CPR through prioritized community strategies, to address equity in survival from sudden cardiac arrest. Despite national sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) treatment guidelines, not all patients receive evidence-based therapies, with racial and ethnic minorities and women at particularly high risk for under treatment.

“Unless systemic changes are enacted, Hispanic-Latinos, African Americans and other historically excluded groups will remain more likely to die of sudden cardiac arrest, and that is especially true for women of color,” said Veronica Maldonado-Torres, President of the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Board member of the Metro Atlanta American Heart Association. “By addressing these systemic barriers, we can improve health outcomes and provide these communities with the tools and resources they need to learn and administer the lifesaving skill of Hands-Only CPR.”

Through advocacy and community support, CPR education is being provided throughout the metro Atlanta area to address a health equity gap in historically excluded and under-resourced communities. Examples include: 

  • By working with local and state legislators, the state of Georgia successfully enacted a law that made Hands-Only CPR training as a high school graduation requirement in 2014;
  • Providing CPR training kits to local high schools in the community to have the proper resources for education; 
  • Engaging with local community partners to provide in-person CPR training; and 
  • Making CPR training widely accessible via the American Heart Association website which incorporates local CPR training classes and more.

With the power of Hands-Only CPR, we must be ready to save the lives of the those we love as well as the life of someone we don’t know who someone else’s mother, father, brother, sister, husband, wife, son or daughter.  

During American Heart Month, we are challenging our community to Be the Beat and ensure that at least one person in their household knows how to administer Hands-Only CPR. To learn more about Hands-Only CPR, visit CPR.heart.org.


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