92 percent of people who have sudden cardiac arrest outside of a hospital setting will die. That sobering statistic is from the CDC and shows the value of lifesaving CPR. To add to the somber statistic of deaths, just 30 percent of heart attack victims receive CPR from bystanders.
What if there was an app to alert CPR-trained volunteers to cardiac arrest victims? Research has shown receiving chest compressions dramatically improves survivability until the EMTs can get to the scene.
An app has recently been trialed in Stockholm, Sweden to do just that. Published in the New England Journal of Medicine, it represents the first time researchers were able to increase ‘bystander CPR’ with a simple mobile app.
The setup is relatively simple. Swedish researchers used location-awareness built-in to nearly every smartphone to alert volunteers if there was a person in cardiac arrest nearby. They could move to the scene and provide CPR and hopefully resuscitate the person until first responders arrived.
How well did it work? It increased ‘bystander CPR’ by 30 percent. You won’t get a better model for communities to follow. Dr. Jacob Hollenberg summed up the results in a news release:
“Traditional methods such as mass public training, which are now used throughout the world, are important but have not shown any evidence of a similar increase.”
“The new mobile phone text-message alert system shows convincingly that new technology can be used to ensure that more people receive life-saving treatment as they wait for an ambulance.”
CPR App Study
First, the app, known as SMS Lifesavers, is not available to the public. Think of it as a field test. Researchers built the app from the ground up, taking advantage of the GPS technology found in phones today.
The study was blind, with 6,000 CPR certified participants in the system initially, and 4,000 added through the course of the study. None of the volunteers belonged to the medical system (hospitals, EMTs, etc.). When first responders dispatched to cardiac arrest calls, volunteers within a third of a mile received a notification.
Using the system resulted in bystanders administering CPR 62 percent of the time before EMTs arrived. When not in use, CPR administering rates dropped to 48 percent.
How Would a National CPR App Work
In the United States, a system could be created in the same way the Amber Alert system works. It would have to have government controls and permission. CPR certification would be a must to be included in the database of volunteers.
Looking at the study, it’s a great idea. Every year 359,000 Americans suffer cardiac arrest outside of the hospital. Imagine if we had a network of volunteers to help improve the survivability of a heart attack.
If a person can receive hands-only CPR within the first three minutes, it can effectively jump-start the heart and reduce oxygen deprivation. That is vital to increasing survival rates.
The average timeframe for EMTs to apply the first defibrillation is seven minutes after they are on the scene. Having trained bystanders already performing CPR could reduce permanent damage, and we could cut the astonishing death rate.
Immediate and properly administered CPR can double or triple a cardiac arrest victim’s survival chances. Learning the proper technique is crucial due to four out of five sudden cardiac arrests occur in the home.
With four out of five sudden cardiac arrests occurring in the home, you are more likely to be helping save a loved one.
The research shows a location-aware CPR app can save lives.
We download a constant stream of apps every day. Why not one to save lives?