In order to bring you the best possible user experience, this site uses Javascript. If you are seeing this message, it is likely that the Javascript option in your browser is disabled. For optimal viewing of this site, please ensure that Javascript is enabled for your browser.
Did you know that your browser is out of date? To get the best experience using our website we recommend that you upgrade to a newer version. Learn more.

If you witness a cardiac arrest, your actions could save a life

Cardiac Arrest
Acute Cardiac Care

Sophia Antipolis, France – 28 Aug 2021:  Lay responders’ swift assistance to cardiac arrest victims is associated with improved survival, according to research presented at ESC Congress 2021.1,2

“Our study suggests that when emergency medical services incorporate members of the public into their systems, cardiac arrest victims are more likely to survive,” said study author Dr. Martin Jonsson of the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.

Cardiac arrest is caused by an electrical malfunction of the heart which causes it to stop beating and pumping blood. It is lethal within minutes without help. Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) electrically shock the heart so that it starts beating again, while cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) uses chest compressions and breaths to move blood and oxygen around the body.

This study investigated the associations between the dispatch of lay responders and the use of CPR, use of AEDs, and 30-day survival following a cardiac arrest in the community.

The study included all out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occurring in 2016 through 2019 in four areas. Data from the two most populous regions in Sweden (Stockholm, Västra Götaland) were collected from the Swedish CPR register. Information from North Holland, the Netherlands were obtained from the ARREST database, and the Ticino Cardiac Arrest Registry was used for Ticino, Switzerland.

The system for dispatch of lay responders was as follows: the public can sign up as lay responders via a mobile phone app/internet. They are then registered in a database and the system tracks their location. When the dispatch centre receives a call about a cardiac arrest, the dispatcher can activate the system. If lay responders are in close proximity of the cardiac arrest location, they receive a notification of the app with instructions to run and perform CPR or find an AED.

A total of 8,513 cardiac arrests were included in the analysis. In 3,410 cases, lay responders were dispatched to the victim using a smartphone application while in 5,103 cases a lay responder was not dispatched.

The researchers analysed the associations between dispatch of lay responders and CPR, AED use and 30-day survival. The analyses were adjusted for age, sex, location, witnessed status, emergency medical services response time, and time of day. The results showed that when lay responders were dispatched, there was a 28% higher chance of CPR (risk ratio [RR] 1.28; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.12–1.45; p=0.0002), 56% higher chance of AED use (RR 1.56; 95% CI 1.02–2.39; p=0.0390) and 28% higher likelihood of being alive at 30 days (RR 1.28; 95% CI 1.10–1.48; p=0.0012).

Dr. Jonsson said: “Our study demonstrates the benefits of including the general public in the emergency response to a suspected cardiac arrest. Every second counts in these situation and lives can be saved with rapid use of AEDs and CPR.”



Notes to editor

ESC Press Office
Tel: +33 (0) 7 8531 2036

Follow us on Twitter @ESCardioNews 

The hashtag for ESC Congress 2021 is #ESCCongress.

This press release accompanies both an abstract and an ESC press conference at ESC Congress 2021. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the European Society of Cardiology.

Funding: The study was part of the ESCAPE-NET project, which was funded by EU Horizon 2020.

Disclosures: Martin Jonsson: none; Ellinor Berglund: none; Mattias Ringh: shareholder in Heartrunner AB (who host the lay responder system in Sweden).

References and notes

1Abstract title: Dispatch of lay-responders is associated with bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation, bystander defibrillation and 30-day survival following an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.

2Press conference: “Preventing sudden cardiac death” on Thursday 26 August from 15:00 to 16:00 CEST.

About the European Society of Cardiology

The ESC brings together health care professionals from more than 150 countries, working to advance cardiovascular medicine and help people to live longer, healthier lives.

About ESC Congress 2021 - The Digital Experience

It is the world’s largest gathering of cardiovascular professionals, disseminating ground-breaking science in a new digital format. Online each day – from 27 to 30 August. Explore the scientific programme. More information is available from the ESC Press Office at