Stayin’ alive

Young business man hand pump on chest for first aid emergency CPR.

Updated – July 2023

The British Heart Foundation estimates that 1.4 million people in the UK today have survived a heart attack. It also estimates that some 30,000 people a year suffer a heart attack outside of a hospital setting (known as OHCA, or an “out-of-hospital cardiac arrest”), and of those 30,000, only 1 in 10 survive.

The world watched in shock when footballers Fabrice Muamba and Christian Eriksen collapsed on the pitch during high profile matches and were brought back from the brink of death by quick-thinking and highly trained first aid teams. Sadly most people who suffer OHCAs won’t do so with skilled medics nearby, and that is where so-called bystander CPR becomes important. In 2018 NICE, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, stated that “immediate initiation of CPR can double or quadruple survival from out hospital cardiac arrest [but that] only 40% of people receive bystander CPR in the UK”. CPR, which stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation, involves giving chest compressions, with or without rescue breaths, to someone who is unconscious and not breathing normally, at a rate of 100 to 120 per minute, roughly equivalent to the beat of the Bee Gees’ hit “Stayin’ Alive”.

These days there is no need to attend a first aid course to learn how to do CPR – the British Heart Foundation has a free online resource which teaches CPR in just 15 minutes. Click here to find out more – it might just save a life one day.

July 2023 update – In April 2023 the results of a study were published which showed that more people survived an OHCA when individuals trained in CPR received notification via an app that a person nearby needed help. One in 10 people survived an OHCA without the app, and 18% survived when an alert was sent and accepted by someone nearby with the appropriate training. Click here to read the publication by the National Institute for Health and Care Research.

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