RICHMOND — Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation can save lives after a heart attack, but in some communities, too few people know how, or are hesitant to, perform the procedure.
Research indicates women of color, particularly Hispanic women, have a lower chance of surviving a heart attack outside a hospital. So, the American Heart Association has launched an initiative to raise CPR awareness in Hispanic communities and help overcome any stigma surrounding it.
Dr. Kelly Epps-Anderson, cardiologist and president of the American Heart Association Mid-Atlantic affiliate board of directors, said in an emergency, where you live can determine whether you survive.
“Hispanic and Latino and Black people are at higher risk for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest with a poor prognosis, in part due to long-standing societal policies that have resulted in limited access to quality health care and to education.”
She explained public service announcements for the “Heroes Saving Hearts” program tie in with Hispanic Heritage Month, encouraging people to learn lifesaving techniques. She added the study found both cultural and educational barriers to performing hands-only CPR.
Epps-Anderson noted other barriers to learning or using CPR include fear or distrust of police, financial concerns, immigration status, language barriers, and even the possibility of violence. Some of these are heightened when the person having the heart attack or stroke is a woman.
“Only 39% of women in cardiac arrest actually receive CPR from strangers in public, compared to 45% in men,” Epps-Anderson reported. “We don’t know exactly why, but we think that the problem may be that there are fears around inappropriate touching or hurting a woman.”
Epps-Anderson pointed out hands-only CPR is as effective as conventional CPR during the first few minutes of a cardiac arrest, and can double or triple a person’s chance of survival.
“We know that Hispanic and Latino communities who are familiar with the methods are significantly more confident that they can perform either type of CPR than the general population,” Epps-Anderson emphasized.