HealthDay News — Quick action from bystanders can have a long-lasting impact for patients with cardiac arrest, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Kristian Kragholm, MD, PhD, of Aalborg University Hospital in Denmark, and colleagues followed 2855 Danish adults who’d experienced an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest between 2001 and 2012, and survived to the 30-day mark. Most had received chest compressions from a bystander — and the likelihood of that happening improved over time. Among patients who’d experienced cardiac arrest in 2001, 66.7% had received cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR); by 2012, 80.6% had, the researchers found. Meanwhile, the number treated with an automated external defibrillator (AED) rose from 2.1% to 16.8%.

Overall, roughly 19% of survivors had brain damage or were admitted to a nursing home. But that was cut to 12% if bystanders performed CPR, and 8% if they used an AED, Kragholm told HealthDay. There was a similar effect on survival. Overall, 15% died within a year. That rate was 8% among patients who’d received CPR, Kragholm said, and only 2% among those who’d been treated with an AED.

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“Our study findings underscore the importance of learning how to recognize cardiac arrest, how to do chest compressions, and how to employ an AED,” Kragholm said.

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Kragholm K, Wissenberg M, Mortensen RN, et al. Bystander efforts and 1-year outcomes in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. N Engl J Med. 2017 May 4;376(18):1737-1747. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1601891.