HealthDay News — Many lives could be saved if more people performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) immediately after seeing someone go into cardiac arrest, a new study contends. The report was published in the July 21 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Carolina Malta Hansen, MD, of the Duke Clinical Research Institute in Durham, N.C., and colleagues analyzed 4,961 out-of-hospital cardiac arrest cases in 11 North Carolina counties from 2010 to 2013. During those years, North Carolina had a campaign to encourage bystanders to perform chest compressions without having to do mouth-to-mouth resuscitation or use automated external defibrillators while waiting for an ambulance. The campaign also promoted the use of portable defibrillators, which are becoming available in more public places and can be used by laypeople, to shock a heart back into normal rhythm.

The campaign increased survival with a favorable neurological outcome by 37%, the researchers said. During the years covered by the study, 86.3% of patients received CPR before emergency medical services arrived, with 45.7% started by bystanders and 40.6% started by first responders. During the study period, the proportion of patients receiving bystander CPR increased from 39.3% in 2010 to 49.4% in 2013.

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In addition, the proportion of patients who received bystander CPR and were defibrillated by first responders increased from 14.1% in 2010 to 23.1 percent in 2013. Of the 1,648 patients who received defibrillation, 53.9% were defibrillated before an ambulance arrived. Of these, 6.9% were defibrillated by bystanders and 47.0% were defibrillated by first responders. Defibrillation by first responders increased from 40.9% in 2010 to 52.1% in 2013, the researchers found.


  1. Hansen CM et al. JAMA. 2015; doi:10.1001/jama.2015.7938.
  2. Nichol G Kim F. JAMA. 2015; doi:10.1001/jama.2015.7519.