A new smartphone app matches people having a cardiac arrest with close by individuals educated in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). And new research shows the system could help save lives.

In the study, researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm report that the application increased the rate of CPR performed on people experiencing cardiac arrest by 14 percentage points.

The new app takes advantage of the GPS feature of mobile phones to locate and message bystanders trained in CPR who are nearby a reported cardiac emergency. CPR-trained volunteers willing to get the alerts download the app to their phone.

CPR training is relatively widespread among the general population. “If we can send these volunteers to the right place at the right time, we may finally improve rates of survival after out-of-hospital cardiac arrest and realize the public health potential of bystander-initiated CPR,” Drs. Comilla Sasson and David Magid of the University of Colorado School of Medicine said in an editorial appearing in the New England Journal of Medicine, where the study was published.

Every year cardiac arrest affects about 420,000 people outside a hospital in the U.S., while 275,000 additional cases occur in Europe annualy. The Swedish study reports:

  • 4 percent of the 14,869 people who didn’t get CPR survived for 30 days after their cardiac arrest

  • 10.5 percent for the 15,512 who did get CPR survived for 30 days after their cardiac arrest

Referring to certain earlier research, Sasson, speaking to Reuters Health, said: “There was starting to be a little controversy about efficacy of bystander CPR in the real world. This study showed that at 30 days, there is a survival benefit.”

Mobile-Phone Dispatch of Laypersons for CPR in Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest Mattias Ringh, M.D., Mårten Rosenqvist, M.D., Ph.D., Jacob Hollenberg, M.D., Ph.D., Martin Jonsson, B.Sc., David Fredman, R.N., Per Nordberg, M.D., Hans Järnbert-Pettersson, Ph.D., Ingela Hasselqvist-Ax, R.N., Gabriel Riva, M.D., and Leif Svensson, M.D., Ph.D. N Engl J Med 2015; 372:2316-2325June 11, 2015DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1406038

Photo: Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office/flickr

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