Main content
CDC commits over $23 million to expand CARES, Emory’s national cardiac arrest registry
Media Contact
Alexis Hauk
Director of Communications, Emory Heart & Vascular Center
Close-up on hands giving CPR

Emory’s Cardiac Arrest Registry to Enhance Survival (CARES), the only national data collection tool that connects pre-hospital cardiac arrest data with hospital outcomes, will receive $23.85 million in grant funding over the next five years from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC CARES Expansion and Modernization Grant, which went into effect Oct. 1, marks a return to public funding for the CARES performance and quality improvement program, which equips communities with crucial data to compare patient populations, interventions, and outcomes related to sudden cardiac arrest. 

Originally founded by Emory and CDC back in 2004 and led by Executive Director Bryan McNally, MD, and a staff of 11 from Emory’s Atlanta campus, the registry has operated through private funding since 2013, largely through user fees and philanthropic support. 

The new funding channel was made possible through recent legislation that was signed into law at the end of last year. The Cardiovascular Advances in Research and Opportunities Legacy (CAROL) Act was introduced in 2021 by Congressman Andy Barr, in honor of his late wife, Carol Leavell Barr, who died from sudden cardiac death.

“CDC is committed to preventing deaths and disability from the nation’s leading killer, cardiovascular disease,” said Janet S. Wright, MD, FACC, director, CDC’s Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention. “By investing in CARES, CDC is making timely, practical, quality-enhancing data available to communities and health systems across the country. These insights can help identify and eliminate disparities and lead to longer, healthier lives for all.”

Funding from the CDC will fortify CARES’ ongoing efforts in several ways. 

First, CARES will be able to invest in quality improvement efforts and much-needed technological updates and advancements to ensure faster and more streamlined data collection, analysis, and dissemination. Using state-of-the-art software, CARES will be able to relay essential information to healthcare professionals more efficiently, aiding in more informed decision-making and improving patient outcomes.

Second, the grant will provide more resources toward CARES' longstanding goal of expanding its coverage to include all 50 states (currently 33 participate). 

“By establishing a nationwide presence, CARES aims to gather comprehensive and inclusive data on cardiac arrest incidents, interventions, and outcomes across diverse populations,” said McNally. “This expansion will facilitate a deeper understanding of disparities that exist in various communities, enabling locally tailored interventions to bridge the gaps.”

CARES currently covers 178 million people or 53% of the U.S. population. Making sure to reach that remaining 47% of Americans, McNally points out, aligns with the 2015 National Academy of Science Report’s “A Time to Act” recommendation to create a national cardiac arrest registry.  

“Measurement is an essential first step in the quality improvement process to help improve out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survival,” McNally adds.

As CARES continues to grow, the program will continue to leverage tremendous support from its longstanding partners, the American Heart Association, and the American Red Cross, both of which will continue to play a vital role in training local workforces to implement CARES locally and ensure data quality. 

As a continuing partner, the American Red Cross will continue to provide strategic support. 

“The American Red Cross is proud to continue to work with the CARES program. The data that the CARES program provides is helpful in identifying the areas where training and programs are needed,” said President of Red Cross Training Services Jack McMaster. “The Red Cross has been a long-time supporter of the CARES program and this investment by the CDC further validates the commitment and need for this program.”

The American Heart Association (AHA), another longstanding partner of the program, will continue its long-standing work with CARES through advocacy, which has been instrumental in establishing governmental funding for CARES,” said Comilla Sasson, MD, PhD, practicing emergency medicine physician and vice president for health science at AHA. “CARES data remains very important for our work in quality care improvement which is always a priority of ours.” 

Additionally, the partnership between AHA and CARES will continue to “provide support for communities to host Resuscitation Academies, bring key stakeholders together to improve out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survival and fortify public health efforts through our Nation of Lifesavers educational campaign to drive large-scale education and awareness about CPR and AED use,” Sasson said.

Finally, this funding will bolster the program’s ongoing commitment to addressing health disparities through robust research and bridge-building with the communities it serves.

Cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death among adults in the United States, and the chance of survival increases dramatically when a nearby person can immediately call 911 and begin CPR. Unfortunately, access to these life-saving interventions can differ dramatically according to race, gender, income, and other factors. 

Last year, CARES published a major study that found that Black and Hispanic persons were less likely than white persons to receive potentially lifesaving bystander CPR at home and in public locations, regardless of the racial or ethnic makeup or income level of the neighborhood where the cardiac arrest occurred.

CARES’ role in data collection is a key part of identifying where these kinds of disparities exist, helping to figure out how and why they happen, and then helping local partners create a plan for how to intervene. Intervention strategies can include providing CPR training, building up access to AEDs, reducing risk factors, conducting bias training, or helping districts determine where they need to allocate more resources toward emergency medical services in under-resourced neighborhoods.

“This public-private partnership will allow more communities to measure their outcomes, benchmark their performance and make local changes that will impact cardiac arrest care and save more lives nationally,” McNally said.

Recent News