Bystander CPR linked to cardiac arrest survivors’ return to work

May 6, 2015 – A study of Danish cardiac arrest survivors found that those who received CPR from a bystander were almost 40 percent more likely to return to work than those who did not.

kristian-kragholm-newsCardiac arrest survivors who received CPR from a bystander were more likely to return to work than those who did not, according to a study published online this week in the journal Circulation.

Researchers in Denmark studied 4,354 people who experienced cardiac arrests outside of a hospital between 2001 and 2011. They found that more than 75 percent of the survivors were able to return to work, and those who received CPR were almost 40 percent more likely to return.

“We already know CPR helps save lives, and now our findings suggest there is even more benefit in performing it,” said Kristian Kragholm, MD (pictured), the study’s lead author, a clinical assistant at Aalborg University Hospital and Aarhus University in Aalborg, Denmark, and a fellow at the DCRI.

Cardiac arrest is the abrupt loss of heart function, breathing, and consciousness. About 326,000 Americans experience cardiac arrest each year, and about 95 percent of cardiac arrest victims will die if not treated immediately. On-site use of automated external defibrillators and bystander CPR can improve victims’ chances of survival.

Since 2006, Denmark has required certification in basic life support for citizens who receive a driver’s license. Since 2009, the nation’s emergency call centers have been staffed with healthcare professionals who can assist bystanders in performing CPR.

Kragholm and his colleagues used data from the Danish Cardiac Arrest Registry and governmental records to determine if and when cardiac arrest survivors returned to work. They found that cardiac arrest survivors were more likely to return to work after the certification requirements went into effect. Survivors who returned to their jobs spent an average time of three years back at work, and survivors who returned to work also earned the same salary after arrest as before.

The researchers noted that although the study does not show a causal relationship between bystander CPR and the likelihood of returning to work, it does illustrate the importance of CPR in surviving cardiac arrest.

The study’s other authors are Mads Wissenberg, MD; Rikke Normark Mortensen, MSc; Kirsten Fonager, MD, PhD; Svend Eggert Jensen, MD, PhD; Shahzleen Rajan, MD; Freddy Knudsen Lippert, MD; Erika Frischknecht Christensen, MD; Poul Anders Hansen, MD; Torsten Lang-Jensen, MD; Ole Mazur Hendriksen, MD; Lars Kober, MD, DSc; Gunnar Gislason, MD, PhD; Christian Torp-Pedersen, MD, DSc; and Bodil Steen Rasmussen, MD, PhD.