News release: Heart & Stroke urges Canadians to act quickly to save more lives

New 2020 Guidelines for CPR and First Aid encourage increased bystander action during a cardiac arrest

Ottawa  –  Heart & Stroke wants Canadians to know that they have the power to save a life. Today, the organization launched a five-year update to its North American Guidelines on Resuscitation and First Aid which includes an increased focus on bystander intervention and immediate action to help save more lives during out-of-hospital cardiac arrests. 

An estimated 35,000 Canadians experience an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest each year and 90% do not survive. However, those numbers can improve with early bystander action. Acting quickly, without hesitation, has the power to save more lives. 

“New evidence shows that the risk of harm to a person who receives chest compressions when not in cardiac arrest is low,” says Dr. Farhan Bhanji, professor of pediatrics at the Montreal Children's Hospital of the McGlll University Health Centre, and long-standing Heart & Stroke volunteer. “We want Canadians to know that they cannot hurt someone by giving them CPR, but they could save a life. We realize that this can be scary, even more so during a pandemic, but do not hesitate and do not wait for someone else to step in. Cover the person’s face with a piece of fabric to protect yourself and them. Immediate CPR action (and defibrillation if possible) is key to improving survival rates.”

The new guidelines also recognize the need for follow-up emotional support for bystanders who perform CPR. 

“Bystander rescuers may experience anxiety or post-traumatic stress about providing CPR,” says Dr. Bhanji. “Debriefings are designed to allow for people involved in a cardiac event to recognize the stress they feel from helping a critically ill person.”  

The Guidelines on Resuscitation and First Aid are considered the gold standard for lifesaving education in Canada, used by instructors and students across the country. The new 2020 guidelines are based on the most current science and developed by leading experts at the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR), of which Heart & Stroke is a founding member and only Canadian representative.

“We are proud to be a leader of resuscitation education in Canada.” says Doug Roth, CEO of Heart & Stroke, “Our newly updated guidelines will lead to better health outcomes for patients and help save more lives.” 

Heart & Stroke urges Canadians to recognize the signs of cardiac arrest to learn how and when to act. You are the person's best chance at survival; have the courage to act quickly.

For more information:

Alicia D’Aguiar
Communications advisor, Heart & Stroke

About Heart & Stroke

Life. We don’t want you to miss it. That’s why Heart & Stroke leads the fight against heart disease and stroke. We must generate the next medical breakthroughs, so Canadians don’t miss out on precious moments. Together, we are working to prevent disease, save lives and promote recovery through research, health promotion and public policy.