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CPR: How Effective Is It Really?

CPR: How Effective Is It Really?

On television and in the movies, people who have a heart attack or collapse due to some other reason are usually revived by cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

In real life, it is much less likely that people will be revived by CPR.

Only a small percentage of people who have a heart attack someplace other than a hospital will survive until they reach the hospital. Even those who reach the hospital alive often die as a result of the underlying heart problem before they can be discharged. Of those people who are able to leave the hospital, most will not regain their normal mental function and many die within the year after the heart attack.

Usually in television or film, CPR is done on a young, relatively healthy person, sometimes someone who has suffered a serious injury. In reality, most people who need CPR are older adults who often have many serious underlying illnesses. These people are much less likely to have a good outcome after CPR. Also, CPR is rarely effective if the cause of cardiac arrest is an injury.

In television and film, the person either dies or recovers fully. In reality, many people who survive after having CPR have serious disabilities as a result of the lack of blood flow to the brain.