Calls to increase CPR education following new data on survival rates

12 March, 2018

Almost 60% of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest patients do not receive bystander CPR despite its potential to more than double survival rates, according to new research by Monash University.

The study, undertaken by the Australian Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium (Aus-ROC) and published in Resuscitation, is the first to compare regional differences in the characteristics and outcomes of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest across Australia and New Zealand.

An estimated 24,373 Australians and 5,048 New Zealanders suffer an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest every year, according to the new research.

Results showed that only 12% of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest patients survive to hospital discharge, with survival ranging from 9% to 13% between regions.

However, almost 60% of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest patients did not receive bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), with bystander CPR rates ranging from 36% to 50% between regions.

It shows there are significant opportunities to improve the public's response to cardiac arrest with the aim of improving survival.

Dr Ben Beck, the lead author and Deputy Head of Prehospital, Emergency and Trauma Research at Monash University, said: “bystander CPR is a crucial component in what we call the ‘chain of survival’ – previous research has shown that patients who receive bystander CPR are more than two times more likely to survive their cardiac arrest.”

However, when compared to the rest of the world, Australia’s results look promising.

“We are fortunate to have some of the best survival rates in the world in Australia and New Zealand and we hope that we can continue to lead the way in cardiac arrest research,” said Professor Judith Finn, Director of Aus-ROC.

This is the first time that data from ambulance services across Australia and New Zealand have come together to look at variation in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest characteristics and outcomes.

It’s also the first time we can accurately estimate annual numbers, according to Dr Beck.

The findings mark the first results of the Aus-ROC Australian and New Zealand Out-of-hospital cardiac arrest epidemiology registry (‘Epistry’) since its establishment.The Epistry provides the first robust platform to understand regional differences in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest across Australia and New Zealand that will enable the optimisation of care provided to these patients with the aim of improving survival.

Seven ambulance services contributed data to the Epistry: Ambulance Victoria (Victoria), SA Ambulance Service (South Australia), St John Ambulance Western Australia (Western Australia), Queensland Ambulance Service (Queensland), St John Northern Territory (Northern Territory), St John New Zealand (New Zealand), and Wellington Free Ambulance (New Zealand).

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