Posted on 05/11/2023

No formal care plan for cardiac arrest survivors

A cardiac arrest is when the heart stops beating, and a person is clinically dead - but less than a quarter realize it is more serious than a heart attack.

Adults in the UK believe there is a 50/50 chance of surviving a cardiac arrest – but in reality, nine in ten of those which happen away from a hospital result in death. A survey of 2,000 adults found 28 percent believe a cardiac arrest is the same as a heart attack.

However, a cardiac arrest is the ultimate medical emergency, when the heart stops beating, and the individual is clinically dead.

But less than a quarter of those polled believe a cardiac arrest is more urgent than a heart attack. During a heart attack, the heart normally continues to beat, but blood supply to the organ is disrupted. However, only 30 percent of adults surveyed realized that a person is clinically dead at the point of arrest.

Almost half of those polled (49 percent) also believe cardiac arrest survivors have the same rehabilitation services and psychological support as those who have suffered a stroke, heart attack, or been diagnosed with cancer.

But there is currently no formal care plan for cardiac arrest survivors consistently applied across the UK.

According to experts, every minute without CPR and defibrillation reduces a person’s chance of survival by up to 10 percent.

Symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest are immediate and severe, such as a sudden collapse – which includes unconsciousness, no pulse, and no breathing.

James Cant, CEO at Resuscitation Council UK, which commissioned the research, said: “Currently, we are failing people who survive a cardiac arrest. There is no personalized care plan for rehabilitation for these patients – they are often sent home with severe neurological, physical, and emotional difficulties, missing out on the vital services they need to help them to recover. Everyone affected by cardiac arrest has a right to recovery and rehabilitation, which is a key element of improving quality of life post-event.”

While 23 percent said they sometimes experience chest pains, more than half of those (59 percent) have not spoken to a medical professional.

It also emerged 37 percent of adults wouldn’t feel very confident helping someone in a state of cardiac arrest, while 24 percent would not feel at all confident.

Just 15 percent think only trained medical professionals are allowed to use a defibrillator, and only 11 percent would have total confidence they could correctly use a defibrillator themselves, according to the figures.

James Cant added: “As little as 29 percent of out of hospital cardiac arrest survivors are assessed for neurological rehabilitation in their post-cardiac arrest care, and psychological reviews are only offered to 20 percent of survivors.

“Our aim is to increase bystander CPR and defibrillation awareness to increase survival rates, but the services must be there to support those who survive.”

SOURCE: Andrew Young,

See related Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation public awareness research here.