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Study: Minorities hesitant to perform hands-only CPR

Findings also showed that minority populations are more likely to incorrectly believe that special training and certification are required to perform CPR

American Heart Association

DALLAS — New survey findings from the American Heart Association – the world’s leading voluntary health organization devoted to fighting cardiovascular disease – show that minority populations are more likely to incorrectly believe that special training and certification are required to perform Hands-Only CPR on a person and more likely to be hesitant to perform the skill for fear of causing injury. These misperceptions contribute to poor survival rates from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, which affects more than 350,000 Americans annually with survival rates of less than 12 percent.

The findings from the Hands-Only CPR Research Tracking Study commissioned by the AHA show that while 61 percent of all respondents were hesitant to perform Hands-Only CPR for fear of unintentionally causing injury, African-Americans (70 percent) were significantly more likely to hold this belief than Caucasians (59 percent). Hispanics and Asians also tracked higher than Caucasians (64 percent and 67 percent, respectively). Additionally, 61 percent of Hispanics believe that special training and certification are required to perform the skill, which is considerably higher than Caucasians at 53 percent. Even though more than half of the three major U.S. minority groups expressed awareness of Hands-Only CPR, those likely to perform the skill, and with confidence, are much fewer.

More than 1,100 adults, ages 18 and up, participated in the study, which has been conducted every two years since 2009 to assess general awareness, attitudes and behavior regarding Hands-Only CPR.

The survey results are being released this month during National Minority Health Month to recognize the response disparities in underserved populations suffering out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Neighborhoods whose residents are mainly African-American or Hispanic are two to three times more likely to have cardiac arrest outside of a hospital. Furthermore, African-Americans and Hispanics are 30 to 50 percent less likely to have bystander CPR performed on them. These statistics identify a gap that needs to be bridged and suggest that changing perceptions of who is “qualified” to perform Hands-Only CPR may encourage minority communities to seek knowledge and training, resulting in improved health outcomes.

“African-Americans, for example, are almost twice as likely to experience cardiac arrest at home, work or in another public location compared to Caucasians, and their survival rates are twice as low,” said Gustavo E. Flores, M. D., an AHA volunteer and director at Emergency & Critical Care Trainings LLC. “Therefore, it is especially critical for bystanders to be equipped with Hands-Only CPR knowledge and training. In this case, knowledge is not only power, but it can save a life.”

About 90 percent of people who suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrests die. Hands-Only CPR has been shown to be as effective as conventional CPR for cardiac arrest at home, at work or in other public locations. It can double or even triple a victim’s chance of survival.

This month, the AHA – and national sponsor Anthem Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Anthem Inc., - are continuing their work together to improve minority health outcomes across America by changing perceptions about Hands-Only CPR and promoting awareness of AHA’s EmPOWERED to Serve program. The program’s mission is to educate minority communities about the risks of heart disease and stroke and work toward building a sustainable culture of health.

The two organizations aim to raise Hands-Only CPR awareness, increase knowledge and encourage training. Hands-Only CPR has two easy steps, performed in this order:

1. Call 911 if you see a teen or adult suddenly collapse.
2. Push hard and fast in the center of the chest to the beat of a familiar song that has 100 to 120 beats per minute. Song examples include “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees, “Crazy in Love” by featuring Jay-Z, “Hips Don’t Lie” by Shakira” or “Walk the Line” by Johnny Cash.

The AHA’s Hands-Only CPR campaign is supported nationwide by a five-year educational grant from the Anthem Foundation. Since 2015, nearly 6.4 million people have been trained in Hands-Only CPR via events, Hands-Only CPR Training Kiosks and video education with the Foundation’s support.

“We know that Hispanics and African-Americans are at increased risk for heart disease and these survey findings stress why it’s imperative that we work to help empower our communities with Hands-Only CPR education,” said Craig Samitt, M.D., chief clinical officer at Anthem, Inc. “When a person suffers an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, every second counts. With Hands-Only CPR, we hope to increase the use of bystander CPR and help the American Heart Association in its work to double the survival rate related to out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.”

The good news is that everyone can take action and positively impact better health outcomes by learning and sharing Hands-Only CPR knowledge in recognition of National Minority Health Month. Hands-Only CPR is not a skill only left to trained professionals; anyone can save a life with the right training.