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Heart and Stroke Foundation sounding the alarm over increase in cardiac arrest rates


Sudden cardiac arrest incidents are on the rise in Canada, posing a threat to individuals of all ages.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation is sounding the alarm, emphasizing the critical importance of learning CPR, which can significantly increase the chances of survival in an emergency.

Lauren Ross, a 28-year-old in 'perfect' health, experienced a sudden cardiac arrest while out for her morning run in 2020. Her heart stopped, causing her to collapse on the street.

"I remember thinking, 'I’m going to turn around and go home.' I don’t remember anything from that point on," she said.

"If there was no bystander intervention with CPR, I wouldn’t be alive to tell you this story."

A recent report released by the Heart and Stroke Foundation has shed light on an alarming increase in cardiac arrests in Canada, surpassing previous estimates.

The report reveled that approximately 60,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests happen in Canada annually, translating to one every nine minutes.

Only one in 10 individuals experiencing a cardiac arrest outside of a hospital setting survives.

“Immediate CPR and fast shock with an AED are primordial for survival," said Dr. Christian Vaillancourt, professor of emergency medicine with the University of Ottawa. "CPR is just easy as pie – everybody can do it."

The report highlights that nearly half of cardiac arrests occur among individuals under the age of 65.

Prompt action is crucial in saving lives, with immediate CPR helping to maintain blood circulation and an automated external defibrillator (AED) being instrumental in restarting the heart.

The report emphasizes that the chances of survival diminish significantly with each passing minute without these life-saving interventions.

While there have been notable improvements in addressing heart attacks over the years, including enhancements in CPR techniques and increased accessibility of AEDs in public spaces, significant gaps remain.

Disparities persist across regions, with CPR rates varying from 42 per cent to 72 per cent, and only 13 per cent of bystanders have access to AEDs in public locations.

Training and awareness play vital roles in responding to cardiac arrest incidents. CPR helps circulate blood to the brain, while AEDs deliver shocks only when necessary. Both are skills that everyone should learn, as they can buy crucial time until professional help arrives.

"We can be called upon at anytime to give assistance," said Shane Kramer, a federal district learning manager with St. John Ambulance, which offers a first aid course to the public.

"Even just the presence of mind that it gives you can help you stay calm and collected know what to do, there’s the skill then the knowledge and the frame of mind for responding in a crisis situation.”

Lauren Ross says she is immensely grateful for the bystanders who saved her life and urges everyone to learn CPR.

"There is positivity afterwards, life goes on," she said.

"Thank you is not enough, they saved my life. Learn CPR and you could save someone’s life.” Top Stories

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