By Antigoni Papadopoulou - 14th October 2013
Approximately 400,000 people suffer an out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest every year, with a survival rate of less than 10 per cent
CPR and defibrillation, if adminsistered quickly, can increase the chances of surviving cardiac arrest to 50 per cent, which is why training is important, says Antigoni Papadopoulou.
On October 16, I shall host a series of activities in the European parliament in Brussels in cooperation with the European resuscitation council (ERC) and in the presence of Tonio Borg, European commissioner for health.
Following a written declaration (11/2011), which I had successfully initiated with the support of MEPs Jim Higgins, Antonyia Parvanova, Raul Romeva i Rueda and Joao Ferreira and was adopted by the European parliament, these activities aim to further enhance awareness about the importance of early cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillation among laypeople in order to save human lives.
In the aforementioned written declaration it was emphasised that approximately 400,000 people suffer an out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest every year, with a survival rate of less than 10 per cent.
Cardiovascular diseases remain the first cause of cardiac arrest and mortality in Europe. The survival of many apparently healthy victims depends on CPR administered by bystanders and early defibrillation. An intervention within 3-4 minutes may increase the chance of survival to more than 50 per cent and prevent any irreversible brain damage.
Unfortunately however, automated external defibrillator (AED) programmes are only partially implemented. The documented survival rate, from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, remains relatively low and varies widely among countries. It averages 11 per cent for cardiac arrests of all causes and 21 per cent for cardiac arrests from shockable rhythms.
The lack of uniformity is mainly attributed to differences in training and care, epidemiology and organisational structure but also to the different efficiency of the emergency medical services and the bystander's ability to recognise a cardiac arrest so as to initiate CPR until medical assistance is given.
Having in mind that the survival rate is at least doubled, when bystander CPR is initiated and that delays in treatment increase mortality rate, it is obvious that by increasing public awareness and by educating the public at home or at work , including school children, we can increase the rate of bystander CPR.
In our written declaration we ask the commission and member states in the EU to increase awareness on CPR among ordinary people. We want CPR to be part of school training. The content of the European parliament declaration is in full compliance with ERC's efforts 'to preserve human life by making high quality resuscitation available to all', by promoting specific measures to help increase survival after in-hospital and out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in Europe.
This is why under the general theme "October 16: European restart a heart day" in collaboration with ERC, I personally host the enlightenment campaign and other activities in the European parliament.
Both ERC and myself are grateful to Tonio Borg, for having accepted our invitation to inaugurate this year's 'Restart a heart day' theme, which will specifically be 'Children Saving Lives'. Each year the campaign will be devoted to a different theme or target group.
In the morning of the 16th of October, there will be a special training by members of the ERC, for children volunteers on resuscitation and the use of AED. In the afternoon, these children will train MEPs. At 6.30 pm the official opening of an exhibition will take place as well as the inauguration of the 'Restart a heart day', by Borg.
I fully endorse ERC's strategy to increase survival rates by increasing the rate of bystander CPR among people and children and I do hope that the Annual cardiac arrest awareness day will promote awareness on the importance and benefits of CPR and AED usage. As a European parliamentarian I shall exert all political pressure needed to ensure that all children receive this training everywhere in Europe.
Antigoni Papadopoulou is a member of parliament's S&D group