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CPR Can Save Young Lives, Too

Contrary to popular belief, study finds it works on kids, teens having heart attacks

MONDAY, March 9 (HealthDay News) -- Challenging the widespread belief that cardiac resuscitation is not effective in young people, a new study by U.S. researchers reports that the rescue measure is worth the effort with children and teens who suffer cardiac arrest.

Cardiac arrest can be caused by heart disease, heart attack, drowning, electrocution and choking.

The researchers found that children and adolescents who had a non-traumatic, out-of-hospital cardiac arrest had higher survival rates than adults and infants. However, infants younger than 1 had a lower survival rate than adults.

"Previously, if you talked to most emergency medicine doctors and emergency medicine technicians, they would say that children almost never survive a cardiac arrest," Dr. Dianne L. Atkins, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Iowa's Carver College of Medicine and Children's Hospital in Iowa City and lead author of the study, said in an American Heart Association news release. "What we showed is that children and teenagers, in fact, do better than adults."

Atkins and her colleagues analyzed data from cardiac arrest cases involving 25,405 adults and 624 people younger than age 20, including 193 adolescents (ages 12 to 19), 154 children (ages 1 to 11) and 277 infants.

Among the findings:

  • The incidence of cardiac arrest per 100,000 person-years was: 126.52 for adults; 6.37 for adolescents; 3.73 for children; and 72.71 for infants.
  • Overall, 6.4 percent of pediatric patients and 4.5 percent of adult patients survived to be discharged from the hospital, a statistically significant difference.
  • Survival rates among pediatric patients were: adolescents, 8.9 percent; children, 9.1 percent; and infants, 3.3 percent.
  • Among pediatric patients treated by emergency medical service personnel, the number who survived to be discharged from the hospital were: eight of 230 infants (3.5 percent); 14 of 135 children (10.4 percent); and 17 of 135 adolescents (12.6 percent).

The study appears in the March 9 online issue of Circulation.

Additional therapies and resuscitation methods do need to be developed for infants, children and adolescents to improve their survival rates, the researchers recommended.

"We put a lot of effort into developing better therapies and better ways to resuscitate adults," Atkins said. "We also need to put that same effort into children because they actually do have a slightly higher survival."

More information

The American Heart Association has more about cardiac arrest.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, March 9, 2009

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