Harvard Heart Letter

Bystander CPR may help cardiac arrest survivors return to work

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) not only saves lives, it may also help survivors of cardiac arrest recover well enough to return to work, according to a study in the May 12, 2015, issue of Circulation.

Researchers studied more than 4,300 people in Denmark who were employed before they suffered a cardiac arrest. In cardiac arrest, the heart suddenly stops working. More than 75% of survivors who had a cardiac arrest outside a hospital were able to return to work in a median time of four months. Those who received CPR from a bystander were nearly 40% more likely go back to work compared with those who didn't get CPR. The chest compressions given during CPR keep blood circulating to the brain, minimizing brain damage caused by a lack of oxygen.

Since 2006, in order to get a driver's license in Denmark, a person must become certified in
basic life support, including CPR. In the United States, the American Heart Association, the American Red Cross, and other organizations offer classes in CPR. And you can learn the basics from a one-minute video at www.heart.org/HandsOnlyCPR.

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