AHA president Dr. Rose Marie Robertson says the association is also pressing a campaign to get automatic heart defibrillators installed in places like sports stadiums, airports and other public buildings. Defibrillators can automatically assess whether a cardiac arrest victim’s heart is fibrillating, or beating randomly, and provides an electric shock to regulate the heartbeat.
Automated external defibrillators are now considered “standard CPR,” says the AHA, and their availability significantly decreases the number of needless deaths each year. Today, 80 percent to 90 percent of patients collapsing at O’Hare Airport are resuscitated by bystanders using defibrillators, with most of these patients awake and talking by the time professional rescuers arrive, according to the association.
Heart attack survival chances fall by 7 percent to 10 percent for every minute between collapse and defibrillation, Mary Fran Hazinski of Vanderbilt University Medical Center says. Currently in the U.S. only 5 percent of the victims of sudden cardiac arrest survive, but rates vary widely from place to place, according to Hazinski.
Edward Stapleton of the State University of New York at Stony Brook said the new guidelines will cut the time needed for CPR refresher courses from 3 1/2 to 4 hours down to 2 hours.
The new guidelines will be published in the association’s Aug. 22 issue of Circulation magazine. CPR instructors will be trained in the new policy next month and in January are expected to be teaching it. People who currently are CPR-certified will be re-trained in the new methods when they get recertified.
ABCNEWS’ Maria A. Flores, ABCNEWS.com’s Ephrat Livni and the Associated Press contributed to this report.