States with laws that require CPR training in schools have higher rates of bystander CPR, according to a new study by researchers at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). The study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC), is the first to compare rates of bystander CPR in states that have and have not enacted CPR education laws.
“Communities in the United States with higher rates of bystander CPR experience higher survival after cardiac arrest,” said lead study author Victoria L. Vetter, MD, a cardiologist in the Cardiac Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Medical Director of Youth Heart Watch. “The results of our study should encourage states that have passed CPR education laws to enact and implement them in a uniform fashion as soon as is feasible and should urge those states without such laws to pass them as soon as possible.”
More than 377,000 adults and 23,000 children experience an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest each year in the United States, with only 10.5% of adults and 11.3% of children surviving. Having a trained bystander perform CPR significantly improves outcomes, so 39 out of 50 states have passed laws requiring CPR and automated external defibrillator (AED) training for high school students. However, although prior research has established a relationship between bystander CPR and better outcomes, no one had examined the correlation between mandated CPR education and rates of bystander CPR.
To do so, the researchers analyzed data from the Cardiac Arrest Registry to Enhance Survival (CARES) from January 1, 2013, through December 31, 2020, and included all 911-activated non-traumatic out-of-hospital cardiac arrest events where CPR or AED use was attempted.
The researchers found that rates of bystander CPR were higher in states requiring CPR education in high school versus those that did not: 41.6% vs 39.5%, respectively.
“At CHOP, we established Youth Heart Watch to help develop pediatric AED and CPR programs in schools, recreation centers and other public places,” Dr. Vetter said. “This study underscores the importance of these programs in providing life-saving training and education to students and staff. We will continue partnering with schools to implement these programs in the hope that more lives can be saved.”