Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart suddenly stops beating and can lead to death if immediate action isn’t taken. When a person is in cardiac arrest, blood is no longer able to flow to the brain and other vital organs. This can be caused by certain heart conditions and other risk factors, such as a “sedentary lifestyle, smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, history of heart disease, age, substance abuse, and low potassium or magnesium” (Sullivan, 2017). Cardiac arrest affects over a half a million people yearly in the United States alone. According to the American Heart Association, over 70% of those cardiac arrest take place outside of the hospital, of which a staggering 90% of the victims die. (AHA, 2021). In fact, the AHA states that “globally, cardiac arrest claims more lives than colorectal cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, influenza, pneumonia, auto accidents, HIV, firearms, and house fires combined” (2021).
Because cardiac arrest is a life-threatening emergency, immediate action is necessary. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the use of an automated-external defibrillator (AED) can help restart a heart that has stopped beating because of cardiac arrest. CPR keeps oxygen rich blood circulating in the person’s body until help arrives and the AED restores the heart’s rhythm by sending electrical shocks. CPR and AED have proven to be extremely effective. It can double, and sometimes triple, a person’s chance of survival. However, not enough people in the community have the proper CPR training to effectively perform these life-saving skills. In fact, a Cleveland study revealed that although 54% of people claimed to know CPR, only 16% knew the proper technique and only 11% knew the pace to perform compressions.
In a time when 47% of Americans have high blood pressure, 42.4% are obese, 21 million Americans have some sort of substance abuse issues, the overdose rates have tripled over the past thirty years, and heart disease is the number one leading cause of death in this county; it is more important than ever that citizens are CPR trained, have access to and know how to use an AED. The likelihood that a person who experiences cardiac arrest will be at home, in their community, or anywhere other than the hospital is great.
The Touching Hearts Project’s mission is to raise the percentage of lay-responders (citizens like you and me) who are CPR trained and provide equal access to AEDs in every community.
American Heart Association (2021). www.aha.org
Nissen, S., Haitham, A., Navas, V., Rodriguez, L. & Joyce, E. (2018). New Cleveland Clinic Survey:
Only Half of Americans Say They Know CPR. Newsroom. Retrieved from
Sullivan, D. (2017). Cardiac Arrest. Healthline. Retrieved from