Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Programs Revisited: Results of a Community Study Among Older African Americans

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Early cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) performed by a layperson and prompt defibrillation in the field are critical links in the chain of survival of out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest. It has been suggested that minorities, women, and elderly persons are often left out of CPR training programs. To examine knowledge and attitudes toward CPR and automatic external defibrillation among African Americans, the author and colleagues conducted home interviews in a population sample of 425 older men and women in Miami-Dade County, FL. It was found that 25% of the participants did not know what CPR was. Only 18% of men and 28% of women had ever taken CPR classes. Mean age the time of CPR training was for men 36 years and for women 46 years. About 74% of all subjects did not know whom to contact for CPR training, and fewer than 5% knew about the American Heart Association Heartsaver Program (including automatic external defibrillation performed by laypersons). The majority of participants suggested churches or community organizations as organizers of CPR training. This study shows that there is a major need for improving knowledge and intensifying CPR training programs among older African Americans. Community organizations and churches may play a critical role in reaching this goal.

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