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Cardiac arrest registry expands to increase survival rates nationally

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Janet Christenbury

CARES is expanding its reach, with a goal of including all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia in its registry and doubling the survival rate from witnessed out-of-hospital cardiac arrests within five years, thanks to support from a collaborative group.

ATLANTA – The Cardiac Arrest Registry to Enhance Survival (CARES) program, the largest registry in the U.S. and internationally that collects data on survival rates from out-of-hospital cardiac arrests (OHCA), is expanding its reach with a goal of including all 50 states in the U.S. and the District of Columbia in its registry, thanks to additional and new support from a public-private collaboration.

CARES was developed in 2004 through a collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Emory University School of Medicine's Department of Emergency Medicine. In 2005, Atlanta was the first community to begin data collection with nearly 600 cases captured that year. In 2018, data was collected from more than 80,000 patients involving more than 1,200 EMS (emergency medical services) agencies and over 1,400 hospitals, representing a catchment area of more than 110 million people. To date, over 425,000 patients have been entered into the registry.

Current participating non-profit organizations, American Red Cross and American Heart Association, will both increase their funding dollars to CARES, agreeing to provide $500,000 in funding for each of the next five years, while the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is committed to accelerating the development of a National Cardiac Disease Registry and advancing telephone CPR training to 911 Dispatch Centers across the country.

The additional support from the three entities will go toward HHS’s national goal of expanding the registry to all 50 states in the U.S. and the District of Columbia, and, through data-driven improvements in treatment, double the survival rate from witnessed out-of-hospital cardiac arrests within five years (2021-2026). Currently, CARES has 26 state-based participants across the U.S. and additional communities in 16 states.

“This collaboration will help communities measure standard OHCA outcomes and perform local improvement activities to increase survival nationally,” says Admiral Brett Giroir, assistant secretary for health for HHS. “We also commit to dramatically reducing the longstanding racial and ethnic disparities in bystander CPR performance and survival following OHCA.”

Each year, approximately 350,000 people in the United States experience an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest or sudden death; approximately 90 percent who experience an OHCA die. Communities that measure outcomes and perform basic improvement activities like dispatcher CPR education can improve bystander CPR compliance and survival.

CARES’s web-based software platform links three sources of information that define the continuum of emergency cardiac care for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest events: 911 dispatch centers, EMS providers and receiving hospitals, in order to create a single record for an OHCA event.

“We are pleased with the progress made by participating communities and states and are excited about expanding the national cardiac arrest registry, through the collaboration with our partners, in the near future,” says Bryan McNally, MD, MPH, professor of emergency medicine at Emory University School of Medicine and in the Rollins School of Public Health, and executive director of CARES.

For more information about the CARES registry or to enlist as an EMS system, visit


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