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Don't Count on an American to Do CPR

HealthDay News
by -- Robert Preidt
Updated: Feb 9th 2018

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FRIDAY, Feb. 9, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- If someone collapsed in front of you, could you perform CPR?

If you answered no, you're hardly alone. Just over half of Americans know how to perform the emergency procedure. And even fewer know the recommended hands-only technique for bystanders, a new Cleveland Clinic survey reveals.

The survey also found that many Americans can't tell the difference between heart attack and stroke symptoms. This could lead to delays in patients receiving proper treatment.

"When someone is suffering from cardiac arrest, time is not on their side," Dr. Steve Nissen, chairman of cardiovascular medicine, said in a clinic news release.

"Immediate CPR can be the difference between life and death, doubling or even tripling a person's chance of survival. It's a skill that can be easily learned, and we encourage everyone to equip themselves with this knowledge and not be afraid to use it during an emergency," Nissen said.

The online poll queried more than 1,000 U.S. adults. Fifty-four percent of respondents said they know how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

However, only one in six knew that hands-only (just chest compressions, no breaths) is the recommended CPR method for bystanders. And only 11 percent knew the correct rate (100 to 120 a minute) for chest compressions.

An automated external defibrillator (AED) can also be a lifesaver when someone suffers cardiac arrest, but only 27 percent of respondents said there is an AED where they work, the survey found.

The survey also found that heart attack and stroke symptoms were frequently confused. Fifty-nine percent falsely believed that sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg is a symptom of a heart attack. And 39 percent incorrectly thought that slurred speech is a heart attack symptom. These actually are common stroke symptoms.

Most respondents knew that pressure/squeezing in the chest, shortness of breath, and pain in one or both arms were typical symptoms of a heart attack, but less than half knew that back or jaw pain and nausea/vomiting can also indicate a heart attack.

"Every year about 735,000 Americans experience a heart attack. It's vital to know the correct signs and symptoms, so people can take the best first steps to help themselves during an emergency. Knowing how to properly respond to a heart attack could save your life or the life of a loved one," Nissen explained.

Most respondents knew that calling 911 was the first thing to do when someone suffers a heart attack. But only 36 percent knew that the patients should chew an aspirin right away, the survey revealed.

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more on heart attack.