Strategies to Improve Cardiac Arrest Survival: A Time to Act.

Cardiac arrest can strike a seemingly healthy individual of any age at any time, often without warning. Each year, approximately 600,000 people in the United States experience a cardiac arrest. Cardiac arrest is a public health threat.

The Institute of Medicine (now called the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine) convened a committee of experts to study the cur­rent status of, and opportunities to improve, cardiac arrest outcomes in the United States leading to the June 2015 publication of the report “Strategies to Improve Cardiac Arrest Survival: A Time to Act.” The report made eight recommendations for the nation to improve survival of a cardiac arrest, also known as sudden death. Organizations were assigned to collaborate with partners to facilitate the implementation of each recommendation: 

Recommendation Organizational Lead(s)
1 Establishing a national cardiac arrest registry Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
2 Fostering a culture of action through public awareness and training State and local departments of health and education,
and leading organizations in cardiac arrest response and treatment.
3 Enhancing the capabilities and performance of EMS systems National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
4 Setting national accreditation standards related to cardiac arrest for hospitals and healthcare systems The Joint Commission; American Red Cross; and American Heart Association.
5 Adopting continuous quality improvement programs Emergency medical services systems; healthcare systems; and hospitals.
6 Accelerating research on pathophysiology, new therapies, and translation of science for cardiac arrest National Institutes of Health; the American Heart Association
and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
7 Accelerating research on pathophysiology, new therapies, and translation of science for cardiac arrest National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality,and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute.
8 Creating a national cardiac arrest collaborative American Red Cross; American Heart Association;
and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The American Red Cross and the American Heart Association have established the National Cardiac Arrest Collaborative in conjunction with several stakeholders (recommendation 8) in order to begin the process of implementing the report’s vision, but need an identified lead from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as described in the report.  Led by Co-Chairs Drs. Richard Bradley and Clifton Callaway, the Collaborative has convened twice to begin addressing the first two recommendations of establishing a national cardiac arrest registry and developing a public messaging strategy. 

The development of a national registry is seen as a critical first step to improving public health and a key first step toward implementing a National Cardiac Arrest Registry was deliberated at the Collaborative meeting in December.  Stakeholders present reached consensus that a public-private partnership model that leveraged two existing cardiac arrest registries (CARES -Cardiac Arrest Registry to Enhance Survival for out-of-hospital cardiac arrests and GWTG-R – Get With The Guidelines - Resuscitation registry for in-hospital cardiac arrests) should be the starting point versus the creation of a new singular registry.