SOURCE: Heart and Stroke Foundation

Heart and Stroke Foundation

October 15, 2015 10:46 ET

The Heart and Stroke Foundation Says the Power to Save a Life May Be in Your Pocket or Purse

New Guidelines Emphasize the Importance of Bystander Response

TORONTO, ON--(Marketwired - October 15, 2015) - The Heart and Stroke Foundation today released updates to resuscitation, emergency cardiovascular care and first aid in Canada that include using everyday technology to improve bystander response to cardiac arrest.

The 2015 Guidelines Update for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and Emergency Cardiovascular Care (ECC) expand on how mobile phones can increase chances of surviving this type of emergency.

GUIDELINES UPDATE: Mobile phone is your link to a CPR coach

Since the last guidelines update, five years ago, there has been an explosion in the number of Canadians who carry a mobile phone. This, combined with the growing number of Emergency Medical Systems who now train their dispatchers to be CPR coaches, means that CPR can be started immediately, even by people who have never taken a course.

"The most effective CPR is started within the first one to two minutes but EMS is typically several minutes away. If the 9-1-1 call is made from a mobile phone set on speaker and placed at the victim's side, there is no delay in starting CPR," says Dr. Andrew Travers, Heart and Stroke Foundation expert and International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation delegate. "When you call 9-1-1, the dispatcher should be able to provide calm, clear directions on basic hands-only CPR*."

According to the Guidelines, bystanders may be confused if they see the victim gasping. This is not normal breathing, it's called agonal breathing and it can be a sign of cardiac arrest, akin to seizure-like activity. Again, the dispatcher can help them recognize it.

The Foundation urges EMS services to review their training protocols, and ensure dispatchers can help callers recognize cardiac arrest and coach them in hands-only CPR.

GUIDELINE UPDATE: CPR doesn't have to be perfect

"Fast action -- any action -- can save a life. Many people hold back from doing CPR because they are panicked and may be afraid of harming the person or are afraid they may do it wrong," says Travers, "but what we are saying here is that unless you act, that person has very little chance of survival. Starting with the 9-1-1 call, you can help that person survive."

For the general public, the guidelines reinforce the concept of good, better, best.

  • Good -- (particularly if you have never learned CPR), call 9-1-1 and follow the dispatcher's directions
  • Better -- learn hands-only CPR and defibrillation
  • Best -- learn CPR that includes rescue breathing and defibrillation

GUIDELINE UPDATE: Municipalities should offer hands-only CPR training

Close to 40,000 cardiac arrests occur in Canada each year, the majority of them in the home. Yet Canadian bystander rates are very poor, less than 30 per cent in many communities. Studies have shown that widespread simplified hands-only CPR education can increase the rates of bystander response overall.

Hands-only training takes less than half an hour. The Foundation urges municipal bodies to offer this training to all citizens.

"The Guidelines updates announced today make CPR easier to learn, easier to do and we believe will make Canadians more likely to step in and respond to a cardiac emergency. Many Canadians want to help if they are ever faced with this type of situation, especially given the fact that four out of five cardiac arrests occur at home or in a public place," says Travers.

These guidelines are updated every five years, and only when new evidence shows that the changes will improve survival rates. The Heart and Stroke Foundation is involved from start to finish, from initial international scientific review as the only Canadian member of the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation, to creating North American guidelines (jointly with the American Heart Association). HSF ensures that the final product is practical and considers Canadian health system realities.

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The Heart and Stroke Foundation's mission is to prevent disease, save lives and promote recovery. A volunteer-based health charity, we strive to tangibly improve the health of every Canadian family, every day. 'Healthy lives free of heart disease and stroke. Together we will make it happen.'

*Hands only is a servicemark of the American Heart Association, Inc., used under license.

Contact Information

  • For more information, please contact:
    Rhae Ann Bromley
    Heart and Stroke Foundation