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Patient Care

HeartRescue United States Expands Effort to Reduce Deaths from Sudden Cardiac Arrest


More than 300,000 people experience sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) each year in the United States. Despite a growing body of evidence of effective ways to respond to and treat SCA, survival rates for people who suffer cardiac arrest outside of the hospital is low, estimated at between 7-10%, and even lower in many communities.

For several years, the HeartRescue Project has provided a collaborative forum where partners share ways to improve the survival rate for SCA. With the recent addition of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, HeartRescue United States is now comprised of 15 partner states and American Medical Response (AMR). The growing consortium hopes to build upon the successes of the founding partners, who came together more than five years ago with the goal of increasing sudden cardiac arrest survival rates through research and implementation of measurable improvements in bystander, prehospital and hospital response.

“While every community is different, the facts about sudden cardiac arrest and the strategies for how to treat it are the same everywhere. The actions that can save lives in Seattle will also save lives in a small town in New England or a big city in the Midwest,” said Thomas Rea, MD, Professor of Medicine at the University of Washington, Medical Director for King County Emergency Medical Services, and a member of HeartRescue’s leadership team. “HeartRescue United States provides a forum for collaboration between researchers, medical teams and regulators working with systems across the nation to improve survival rates.”

By joining HeartRescue, partners commit to submit data to CARES, the Cardiac Arrest Registry to Enhance Survival. CARES collects information from local EMS services and hospitals on out-of-hospital cardiac arrest cases.

Expanding standardized cardiac arrest data collection and use throughout the United States was one of the major recommendations of a recent report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) that recognized sudden cardiac arrest as a public health crisis that must be addressed.

“Measuring our performance is absolutely critical to improving the care we provide and patient outcomes,” said Ben Bobrow, MD, medical director for the Arizona Bureau of EMS and Trauma System, a leader of the HeartRescue team in Arizona and a member of the IOM committee that wrote the report. “Only through continuous measurement and evaluation, we will be able to see what is working and what is not, and make sure every cardiac arrest victim in the state is getting the best possible treatment and chance at survival.”

HeartRescue U.S. partners also commit to implement strategies to improve care. Partners attend a Resuscitation Academy, developed in Seattle as an educational program that empowers resuscitation leaders to return to their communities and make evidence-based changes to improve care and increase survival rates for SCA. They then, in turn, develop and host similar academies in their own states.

HeartRescue U.S. partners work together on research projects, share education and training resources, and collaborate on efforts to engage their local communities and support survivors of cardiac arrest and their families. There is no single, one-size fits all solution to increasing SCA survival. HeartRescue is working to share best practice strategies and provide guidance for every system to make the improvements that make the most impact in their communities.

HeartRescue’s founding partners included the states of Arizona, Illinois, Minnesota, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Washington, and American Medical Response, the nation’s largest ambulance service. Alaska, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon and Utah are also HeartRescue partners.

The HeartRescue Project began as a five-year initiative with support from the Medtronic Foundation in 2010 with a goal of improving how SCA is recognized, treated and measured around the world. In addition to HeartRescue United States, HeartRescue Global programs are also working to improve cardiac arrest care in China and India. More information about HeartRescue United States and its global partners is available at

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