The odds of survival are much higher when more than one bystander comes to the rescue when someone suffers cardiac arrest in a public place, a new study suggests. CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, is a skill everyone should learn.

“Hands-only” CPR, just chest compressions and no mouth-to-mouth breathing, is sufficient for laypeople. When paramedics arrive they will take over with chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth. The American Heart Association and other such groups have shown that hands-only CPR is just as effective as the traditional way of CPR when it comes to helping adult cardiac arrest victims. The recommendations for children are different from that of adults.

Researches in Japan have found that among more than five thousand adults who suffered a cardiac incident outside of a hospital setting were more than twice as likely to survive when more than one person tried to help.

Six percent of victims were alive one year later when three or more “rescuers” were there, versus 3 percent when only one person came to their aid. When two people responded, the survival rate was 4 percent. The researchers do not know if all of those good Samaritans performed, or even knew, CPR.

Some may have just tried to help in some way, note the researchers, led by Dr. Hideo Inaba of Kanazawa University Graduate School of Medicine.

Dr. Michael Sayre, an associate professor of emergency medicine at Ohio State University in Columbus and current spokesman for the American Heart Association has stated that the more bystanders that respond to a cardiac victim the better.

“This study confirms the importance of bystanders responding to cardiac arrest, and the importance of early CPR,” Sayre told Reuters Health.

According to the AHA, more than 380,000 Americans go into cardiac arrest outside of a hospital setting each year. But most Americans have either not learned CPR at all, or their training has lapsed.

CPR classes are available, but the hands-only approach is easy enough to learn without formal training.

“You really don’t have to go to a class,” Sayre said.

He noted that the AHA website has video instructions on how to do hands-only CPR here: Click here for video.

“Learning CPR is something people often feel that they can put off,” Sayre said. “But you never know when you’ll be called on to act.”

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