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Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) helps save lives, yet each year, almost 90% of people who experience out-of-hospital cardiac arrests (sudden cessation of heart function) die. When a cardiac arrest occurs at home, your loved one’s survival depends upon you knowing how to accurately perform CPR. If performed within the first few minutes of cardiac arrest, CPR can double, even triple your loved one’s chances of survival.1
COPD is already the third leading cause of death in this country. According to a recent European study, it’s also associated with an increased risk for sudden cardiac arrest, that risk increasing with COPD severity.
More than 13,000 people, aged 45 years or older, participated in the study. Of these, more than 1,600 had COPD. During the course of the study, 39% of the participants died, with 551 deaths related to sudden cardiac arrest. Fifteen percent of those who died had COPD.
The study concluded that having a diagnosis of COPD increased the risk of sudden cardiac arrest by 34 percent. What’s more, 5 years after being diagnosed with COPD, that risk nearly doubled and in COPD patients who suffer frequent COPD flare-ups, that risk more than tripled.2
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation can save your loved one’s life. But remembering how to perform CPR during an emergency can be challenging. The simple step-by-step guide below, created by the Red Cross, can help you help your loved one in need. Simply print out this page and place on your refrigerator for easy access during an emergency:
Note: If the chest does not rise with the initial rescue breath, re-tilt the head before delivering the second breath. If the chest doesn’t rise with the second breath, the person may be choking. After each subsequent set of 100 chest compressions, and before attempting breaths, look for an object in the mouth or back of throat and, if seen, remove it.
Note: End CPR if the scene becomes unsafe or you’re unable to continue CPR due to exhaustion.
To see the steps to perform CPR in action, watch the Red Cross video Putting it All Together: CPR – Adult on You Tube.
That COPD is associated with an increased risk of sudden cardiac arrest is not surprising, considering the main cause of COPD is smoking and smoking is the number one cause of heart disease.
The most important way to lower your risk for COPD and sudden cardiac arrest is to quit smoking and follow a heart-healthy lifestyle. Additionally, the following preventative treatments may help lower heart risks in COPD patients:2
For more information about cardiopulmonary resuscitation and lowering your risk of sudden cardiac arrest, talk to your primary care provider.
 American Heart Association. CPR Facts and Stats. Accessed 3/29/2017.
Len Horovitz, M.D., pulmonary specialist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; Girish B. Nair, M.D., director, Interstitial Lung Disease Program and Pulmonary Rehabilitation, Winthrop-University Hospital, Mineola, N.Y.; European Heart Journal, news release, April 29, 2015
 American Red Cross. CPR Steps. Accessed 3/29/2017.