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CDC, partners work to increase out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survival

Published: February 10, 2009

Hearts

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention marks February as American Heart Month by highlighting the CARES (Cardiac Arrest Registry to Enhance Survival) Program. The program is a collaborative effort between CDC the American Heart Association (AHA) and the Emory University Department of Emergency Medicine.

A model national registry designed to accurately, and in real-time, measure progress in the treatment of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests (OHCA) will help improve patient survival across the nation. This program will play an important role in achieving CDC and AHA's Healthy People 2010 goal of reducing the death rate from heart disease and stroke by 25 percent from the years 2000-2010.

Improve cardiac arrest outcomes

Using an internationally recognized benchmark to determine survival rates from OHCA, called the Utstein Template, participating EMS administrators and medical directors can use CARES to identify who is affected, when and where cardiac arrest events occur, which elements of the system are functioning properly and which elements are not. Most importantly, it will help identify how changes can be made to improve cardiac arrest outcomes.

Current participation and expansion plans list more than 40 cities, including Atlanta, Kansas City, Anchorage, Raleigh-Durham, Austin, Houston, Cincinnati, Columbus, Nashville, Boston, and Tucson.

"In Atlanta, the survival rate for OHCA patients in Atlanta has jumped from less than 3 percent to 15 percent since 2005 thanks in part to efforts like this," said Dr. Bryan McNally, emergency physician with Emory Healthcare and the Principal Investigator for CARES. "An exciting attribute of this registry is that, since geographical data is compiled on the location of the OHCA, the program can assist city planners, such as MARTA in Atlanta, identify strategic locations for placement of automated external defibrillators (AEDs)."

Secure, real-time tracking

Logo: Heart Disease & Stroke Prevention: Science, Connections, Action

A key feature of this program is that local EMS and hospitals can participate in CARES via a secure and confidential internet database system. This feature reduces time involved in registering events, tracks patient outcomes with hospitals and response intervals associated with first responders and EMS providers, and allows for multiple reporting than can generate real-time longitudinal, internal benchmarking.

This benchmarking is achieved by allowing participants to access their data and confidentially compare with de-identified data from other participants across the system – comparisons that play a vital role in identifying opportunities for improvement The CARES program is unique at CDC in its focus on quality improvement; the link that is made between EMS performance and hospital outcomes is a key component in CDC's Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention's focus on systems of care which extend from primary prevention through rehabilitation and recovery.

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