Family members didn't give CPR for cardiac arrests as often as passers-by or friends in a Japanese study presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2012.
Cardiac arrest is the sudden loss of heart function, typically resulting from an abnormal heart rhythm that causes the heart to quiver erratically and stop pumping blood. According to the American Heart Association, effective bystander CPR provided immediately after sudden cardiac arrest can double or triple a victim's chance of survival.
In a review of 547,218 cardiac arrests occurring in 2005-09, researchers identified almost 140,000 incidents witnessed by bystanders without a physician's involvement. Bystander groups studied included family members, friends and colleagues, passers-by and others.
The time interval between collapse and emergency call and between call and arrival to patients was shortest when witnessed by passers-by.
Family members were least likely (36.5 percent) to administer CPR, but most likely to receive telephone instructions from dispatchers (45.8 percent).
The telephone instruction to family members most frequently failed (39.4 percent) and family members most often used chest compressions only (67.9 percent).
"If you go into cardiac arrest in front of your family, you may not survive," said Hideo Inaba, M.D., Ph.D., lead author of the study and professor and chairman of the Department of Emergency Medical Science at Kanazawa University Graduate School of Medicine in Kanazawa, Japan. "Different strategies, including basic life support instruction targeting smaller households, especially those with elderly residents, would improve survival, as would recruiting well-trained citizens willing to perform CPR on victims whose arrest was witnessed by family members."