Amber Waller understands the lifesaving power of CPR. In 2013, at age 36, Waller collapsed and suffered cardiac arrest in the middle of a soccer game.
“I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for my two teammates and a player from the other team who immediately sprang into action and took turns performing CPR,” said Waller. “Those three individuals and CPR saved my life.”
She knew the odds of surviving cardiac arrest were low. Waller did a lot of research after tragically losing her mom to cardiac arrest only four months prior.
For American Heart Month this February, the American Heart Association calls on the public to “Be the Beat” needed to keep someone alive in an emergency and urges at least one person in every household to learn the two simple steps of Hands-Only CPR.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of the death in the United States, and every year, more than 350,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur. About 90% of people who suffer cardiac arrests outside of the hospital die. CPR, especially if performed immediately, can double or triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival.
“With 70% or nearly three out of four cardiac arrests happening at home, odds are the person who needs CPR will be a family member or friend. That, to me, is the best motivation for family members and caregivers to learn CPR,” said Romilla Batra, MD, chief medical officer, SCAN Health Plan and 2023 Los Angeles Go Red for Women chair.
Research shows the odds of men surviving a cardiac arrest is 23% higher than women. Women are less likely to receive bystander CPR because rescuers often fear accusations of inappropriate touching, sexual assault or injuring the victim. Dr. Batra noted that knowing CPR is vital to saving a woman’s life and that those with the skills should not be afraid of performing CPR on a woman in a lifesaving emergency.
Hands-Only CPR is quick and simple to learn and can be performed by any family member or bystanders. It involves two simple steps, and anyone can learn it from a 60-second video available at heart.org/handsonlycpr.
—Step 1: If a teen or adult suddenly collapses, make sure the scene is safe, then call 9-1-1 and ask someone to get an AED, if available.
—Step 2: Place one hand on top of the other and push hard and fast on the victim’s chest until the AED or emergency services arrive. Never stop compressions for more than 10 seconds.
According to the American Heart Association, people feel more confident performing Hands-Only CPR and are more likely to remember the correct rate when trained to the beat of a familiar song. All songs in the Association’s ‘Don’t Drop the Beat’ playlist are between 100-120 beats per minute, the same rate at which rescuers should perform compressions when administering CPR. The beat of several songs, including “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees, “Crazy in Love” by Beyoncé featuring Jay-Z, “Hips Don’t Lie” by Shakira” or “Walk the Line” by Johnny Cash, can “Be the Beat” to save a life.
Interest in CPR resources have gone up in the wake of NFL player Damar Hamlin’s cardiac arrest. Since the Monday Night Football incident on Jan. 2, the American Heart Association’s website has seen a significant uptick in online activity, with its Hands-Only CPR content pages garnering a 620% increase in pageviews. The Association says educational resources help move bystanders to become active responders, with or without formal training.
In addition to Be the Beat, the American Heart Association is urging everyone to wear red on National Wear Red Day, Friday, Feb. 3, to raise awareness of cardiovascular disease and help save lives.
Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer of women, causing one in three deaths each year, but the good news is that most cardiovascular diseases can be prevented with education and healthy lifestyle changes. For heart and brain health resources, visit heart.org.