Doctors are asking the public to familiarize themselves with life-saving CPR techniques after Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest during a football game Monday night in Cincinnati.

Hamlin received CPR, which stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation, to restore his heartbeat on the field, the Bills said in a declaration. the nfl said separately that Hamlin received immediate attention from his team doctors, as well as local independent medical personnel and paramedics. Invoices tweeted on wednesday that he remained in critical condition but had shown «signs of improvement» on Tuesday night.

The American Heart Association said it saw a 200% increase in web traffic to its CPR site after news of Hamlin’s cardiac arrest broke.

“The lesson with Damar is that getting [CPR] started probably, as soon as possible, is the only thing that saved his life. I had the advantage of having health care personnel in the field when most people in the United States don’t,» said Dr. Paul Chan, a cardiologist at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City, Missouri.

Most cardiac arrests in the US (more than 350,000 a year) occur outside of hospitals. Approximately 90% of these patients do not survive, often because they do not receive immediate medical attention. in about half of adult cases outside of hospitals, there are no bystanders to witness a person collapse.

«With every minute of delay, there’s a 7 to 10 percent decrease in survivability,» said Dr. Michael Emery, a sports cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic.

That being said, CPR is «the most profound and life-changing thing I could ever learn and do for someone,» he added.

Doctors said the survival rate of people who go into cardiac arrest could improve if more people knew how to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation, which involves pressing hard and fast on a person’s chest with both hands at a speed of 100 to 120 compressions per minute. the aha recommends that only doctors administer mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, another component of traditional CPR.

Learning CPR is like learning to tie your shoelaces: «It’s not hard,» said Dr. Jayne Morgan, a cardiologist at Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta. She estimated that CPR saves thousands of lives each year.

But the doctors pointed to two factors that prevent people from doing the life-saving procedure: they are afraid of making a mistake, or they haven’t received proper training.

in a national survey 2018 Per the Cleveland Clinic, 54% of people in the US said they knew how to do CPR, but only 17% said they knew chest compressions alone were effective. If done right away, compressions can double or triple a patient’s chances of survival, according to the AHA.

“You don’t need a certification to save someone’s life. If you’re out in the field when someone is in cardiac arrest and you know CPR, start CPR right away,» said Dr. Mariell Jessup, the AHA’s chief medical and scientific officer.

Image: Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins (85) collides with Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin (3) during the first half of an NFL football game on January 2, 2023 , in Cincinnati.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins collides with Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin (3) during the first half of an NFL game Monday in Cincinnati.Joshua A. Bickel/AP

Chan said most states have good Samaritan laws that protect people from the potential legal repercussions of administering CPR in emergency situations. The AHA also has a playlist to help people hit the right pace.

The doctors noted that formal CPR training, which often involves practicing on a dummy, is preferable to familiarizing yourself with the techniques online.

«You can certainly learn a lot by reading it online, and you can certainly watch videos and understand and learn the technique, but ultimately it’s best to get into a class so you can really practice,» Morgan said.

Time 65% of people in the US say they have received CPR training at some point in their lives, only 18% of people are current on their training, according to a 2015 survey.

«If you look at the number of people who are trained each year, it’s only about 2.5% of the population,» said Dr. Lorrel Toft, a cardiologist at the University of Nevada.

Chan’s research has shown that formal CPR training is conducted less frequently in Black and Hispanic communities than in White communities and that Black and Hispanic people are less likely than whites to receive CPR from a bystander at home or in public, leading to lower survival rates after cardiac arrest.

Chan said that formal trainings are typically held at hotels or convention centers that are not typically located in black and Hispanic communities. And while some are free, many of them cost money: around $100 to $200 for a course of about three to four hours, Chan said.

One strategy to remove barriers to CPR training is to administer it in schools, the doctors said. More than 30 states require public school students to learn CPR before graduating from high school. Jessup said the AHA has advocated for many years for expanding the requirement to all 50 states.

But Toft said laws requiring CPR training in schools tend to vary by state, so «the next step is to really standardize what that education looks like across the country.» He developed a program called «Heart Class,» which allows students to practice CPR by following a movie of approximately 20 minutes.

Another possible solution, Toft said, is for the US to require CPR training to obtain driver’s licenses, a strategy implemented in some Scandinavian countries.

«Sweden showed that by passing that law, they dramatically increased the number of people trained and actually saw an increase in survival after cardiac arrest as a direct result of that law,» he said.