Increasing Bystander CPR: A Community-Based Intervention

I can still remember watching a film in my Public Health class in college, outlining the strong disparity in one’s lifespan based on their zip code. The desire to have an impact on health and healthcare disparities was one of the factors that drove me to a career in medicine. What I found as I investigated the high rates of gout in the Filipino population and racial disparities in cardio-oncology care was a multifactorial array of issues. I admit feeling disillusioned and even hopeless.

While I had signed up to attend #SCAISHOCK to learn more about ECMO and cardiogenic shock, I was delighted that the conference had multiple sessions on disparities in cardiogenic shock, a key issue facing our field. On Saturday, 10/15/22, Dr. Anezi Uzendu, an NIH T32 Research Fellow, interventional cardiologist and cardiac arrest survivor, shared his work on increasing bystander CPR for patients with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in inner city neighborhoods in Boston. Dr. Uzendu started out by discussing the lower rates of bystander CPR support in women, the Black and Hispanic population, and people of lower socioeconomic status. He then discussed his community-based intervention, a virtual CPR training program for predominantly non-White high school students. He and his team spent 18 months in the pre-intervention phase to learn the community, followed by 12 months of intervention, which consisted of virtual education sessions during the COVID-19 pandemic. After the intervention, a survey showed improvements in self-reported comfort and confidence in AED/CPR administration, cardiac arrest knowledge, and recognition of its importance.

What struck me most about this community-based intervention was the concept behind it of “Make BLS Basic.” As physicians it can be easy to forget about how the average person perceives CPR, and hearing about an intervention that was so appropriately tailored to the community it was designed for gave me hope that we as cardiologists can have an impact in narrowing the gaps that our patients suffer from. Dr. Uzendu’s work truly serves as a model for future community-based interventions.

In regard to next steps, Dr. Uzendu shared the following, “The next iteration of Make BLS Basic will focus on capacity building within the community and sustainability. It’s critical that we build a train the trainer model that empowers community members to reach their loved ones.” Dr. Uzendu is currently in transition as he completes his research fellowship, but plans on continuing his work with a focus on creating a self-sustaining model that fits the context of the new community he joins.



Uzendu A, Pagliaro J, Betancourt J, Egun C, Drachman D, Bhatt A, Chan P. Make Basic Life Support Basic: A novel virtual Hands Only CPR training program in minority school age youth. Resuscitation. 2021 Oct;167:93-94. doi: 10.1016/j.resuscitation.2021.07.044. Epub 2021 Aug 20. PMID: 34425155; PMCID: PMC8875330.