WASHINGTON (CBS DC)– Officials are calling for more awareness for sudden cardiac arrest, the No. 3 killer of Americans.

CBS News reports The Institute of Medicine is calling for a national campaign to fight cardiac arrest, which has a survival rate of just six percent outside a hospital. The statistic only increases slightly to 11 percent survival when the patient is treated by first responders.

The report found that less than three percent of Americans receive CPR training annually. In cardiac arrests that happen outside the hospital defibrillators are used by bystanders only four percent of the time.

“The number one priority is to be giving them chest compressions so that you’re circulating the blood for them,” Dr. Clifton Callaway, vice-chairman of emergency medicine at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, told CBS News. “There are videos that can teach you in less than two minutes the basic steps that you need to know that could help double a chance of somebody surviving a sudden cardiac arrest.”

Doctors say intervention by bystanders can be rare because people are often afraid of hurting the person. However, bystanders are ultimately the best chance of survival when there are not medics on the scene.

“And even in the chance, unfortunately that the person dies, that the resuscitation is not successful — and I’ve been in that situation with families,” says CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook. “At least the families have the peace of mind of knowing that their loved one had a shot. They don’t have to go the rest of their lives thinking ‘what if.’ ”

More information on sudden cardiac arrest can be found at www.sca-aware.org.

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