American Heart Association’s CPR in schools initiative aims to reduce disparities in CPR

American Heart Association’s CPR in schools initiative aims to reduce disparities in CPR

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - This is a news release from the American Heart Association.

Kids learning bystander CPR may be the answer to reducing death from the more than 420,000 cardiac arrests that occur outside of a hospital each year. Sadly, most of those victims die, often because bystanders don't know how to start CPR, or are afraid they'll do something wrong.

Further complicating the issue are the disparities among Latinos and African-Americans, who are 30 percent less likely to have bystander CPR performed on them in an emergency, according to a study in the American Heart Association journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes. People who live in lower-income, African-American neighborhoods are 50 percent less likely to have CPR performed.

The AHA is training students, teachers and parents in CPR via its CPR in Schools initiative to help eliminate these inequities, exposing lifesaving skills to millions at a young age.

A September 2013 study in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes is the first of its kind to examine undeserved, high-risk neighborhoods to learn about CPR barriers and what should be done to increase bystander CPR.

In focus groups, researchers learned that residents of these high-risk neighborhoods believe that teaching children about lifesaving CPR and then having them share this knowledge with their families and friends is a key way to spreading the message.

This initial research found that the biggest challenges for minorities in urban communities to learn and perform CPR are cost, fear and lack of information. These same issues are evident in other underserved, high-risk neighborhoods across the country.

"Our continued research shows disparities exist in learning and performing CPR, and we are ready to move beyond documenting gaps to finding solutions to fix them," said Eve Bauer, Regional Director with the American Heart Association. "School is a great equalizer, which is why CPR in schools is an integral part of the solution and will help increase bystander CPR across all communities and save more lives," said Mrs. Bauer.