Sudden cardiac arrest: What Congress can do to save lives

Chest Compressions

CPR doubles the chance of surviving sudden cardiac arrest, but only one in four SCA victims receive CPR from a bystander.

Marking the 50th anniversary of CPR, 43 heart health organizations have asked Congress to take action to reduce deaths from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) — a leading cause of death in the U.S. The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Coalition includes research institutions, medical professionals groups, parents groups, medical device companies, and nonprofit foundations. The group asked members of Congress to commit to three key agenda items:

1. Join the Congressional Heart and Stroke Coalition and raise awareness of Sudden Cardiac Arrest.

2. Work to assure all high school graduates are trained in CPR and AED life-saving skills.

3. Fund research allowing scientists to chart a course for better SCA survival outcomes that includes consistent, accurate data collection across the country.

SCA Award Winners

At a Coalition event in Washington, D.C., earler this month, three journalists and a member of Congress were recognized for outstanding achievements in promoting awareness of sudden cardiac arrest.

Congresswoman Betty Sutton, from the 13th Congressional District of Ohio, was recognized for her sponsorship of H.R. 1380, the Josh Miller HEARTS Act, which authorizes the Department of Education to provide funding to local schools for the purchase of automated external defibrillators (AEDs). The bill passed the House of Representatives in June of 2009.

“I am honored to receive this award from the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Coalition in Josh’s memory and all those who might have been saved,” Rep. Sutton said. “Like Josh, the vast majority of individuals who suffer from sudden cardiac arrest do not display any prior signs of heart trouble, so immediate access to an AED is absolutely critical in saving lives.”

The 50th Anniversary of CPR

CPR has its roots in mouth-to-mouth resuscitation protocols advocated as early as 1740. Modern CPR was formalized and adopted by health organizations in the U.S. beginning in 1960. The details of how to best perform CPR have been refined over the years, but CPR remains the first-line life-saving technique to be employed when someone has stopped breathing and has no pulse. CPR (chest compressions, with or without mouth-to-mouth ventilation) maintains circulation in a sudden cardiac arrest patient, prolonging the period during which shock from anAED can be effective in restarting the heart.

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