CPR Facts, Stats, and Myths

Every year, half a million Americans die from cardiac arrest. Along with heart disease, this becomes the leading cause of death in the United States. What makes this staggering figure even more troubling is that many of these deaths are preventable. By receiving a CPR certification, you can make a difference and also save a life. Studies have shown that CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, can increase a person’s chance of surviving a cardiac arrest episode by 50 percent. With more and more people receiving CPR training, there’s potential to save thousands of lives every year.

Despite this life-saving procedure being relatively well-known (many of us were taught CPR way back in middle school), there is still a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding surrounding CPR. Especially in our age of digital and social media, it’s easy to be overwhelmed with the amount of information out there. What’s right? What’s wrong? What can be trusted? When someone’s life is on the line, misinformation can have detrimental effects. That’s why we’re taking a brief glance into some facts, stats, and even debunking some common myths about CPR. The more you know, the better chance you have of possibly saving a life.


While today’s form of CPR was first introduced in 1960, this life-saving procedure has a much longer and stranger history. The resuscitation concept began in the 16th century with the Bellow’s method, where you would blow hot air or smoke from a fireplace directly into a victim’s mouth. In the late 18th century, a Danish veterinarian discovered that shocks to the chest could restart a heartbeat. Sure, he discovered this while reviving a chicken, but the lesson holds true for humans, as well.

In the 1850s, two British physicians, Hall and Sylvester, added their own twists to the procedure, introducing pressure to the throat and repositioning the victim’s body. By the turn of the century, a physician successfully saved a life with closed-chest cardiac massage—the alternative to the open-chest variety that, thankfully, has become the method of choice. In the 1950s, two doctors proved that giving rescue breaths through mouth-to-mouth resuscitation was an effective life-saving method. In addition to chest compressions, this formed the foundation for what we know today as CPR.


Here, we’ve gathered some of the most important statistics to know about CPR:

·  Worldwide, sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in adults

·  Over 350,000 cardiac arrests occur outside of a hospital

·  4 out of 5 cardiac arrests happen in the home

·  A heart attack and cardiac arrest are NOT the same conditions

·  10,000 cardiac arrests occur in the workplace each year

·  Only 17 out of 50 states require AEDs in schools


In the digital age, we’re surrounded by so much information that it’s often difficult to determine what’s accurate. With so much “fake news” being circulated, how do we know what to believe? While reading up on aliens and UFOs is harmless enough, misinformation concerning healthcare or medical procedures can be extremely harmful—even life-threatening. Therefore, we’ll end this article by briefly listing, and debunking, some of the most common myths about CPR.

1. I’ll just do more harm than good

If someone near you is experiencing cardiac arrest, the worst thing you can do for them is not to act. With every minute that passes, the victim’s chance of survival plummets dramatically. Even if you haven’t been trained in CPR (which is now easier than ever with online CPR classes), it’s important to do what you can to save a life. Even if you aren’t comfortable performing rescue breaths, applying chest compressions can significantly increase survival chances.

2. I can get sued for performing CPR

Many people fear taking action because they worry about doing more harm than good, which could possibly even lead to them getting sued. This is incorrect. To encourage bystanders involved, many states have Good Samaritan laws, which offer legal protection for those attempting to provide CPR or other essential first aid procedures to those in life-threatening situations.

3. I can contract a disease from giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation

The fear of contracting a disease is a common reason people may avoid performing CPR. In the past, concerns over contracting HIV or AIDS circulated widely. However, there is no medical evidence or research to support this. While it is possible to transmit a bacteria or viral infection through saliva, the chances are so low they’re considered negligible. Additionally, some medical professionals point out that chest compressions alone can make a significant difference in saving someone’s life.  

4. A heart attack and cardiac arrest are the same conditions 

While the two conditions can be linked, a heart attack is very different from cardiac arrest. A heart attack occurs when arteries are unable to deliver blood to the heart, commonly from a build-up of plaque in the arteries. Cardiac arrest, on the other hand, occurs when the heart is unable to continue pumping blood throughout the body. If left untreated, the body is quickly starved of oxygen. It’s important to note that a heart attack can often be the cause of someone experiencing cardiac arrest.  

Hopefully, these facts and stats about CPR and cardiac arrest have helped you better understand CPR and why it’s essential. Since CPR is such a prevalent medical condition and so often occurs outside of the hospital, any person nearby (with the proper training) can make a difference. Receiving training in CPR is more affordable than ever. With a wide range of class options, including those fully online, it’s also easier and more accessible than ever to become certified in CPR. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to gain the skills and knowledge that could save a life. We all hope we’ll never be on the front lines of an emergency situation, but if it does arise, don’t you want to be prepared?