It's not just 'Stayin' Alive' — Here's why NewYork-Presbyterian built a Spotify playlist for CPR

More than 350,000 people suffer from cardiac arrest each year outside the hospital setting, according to the American Heart Association. Only 46 percent of these victims receive help from bystanders before paramedics arrive, despite a simple procedure — CPR — that can nearly triple the chances of survival.

"I believe people want to help," Holly Andersen, MD, a cardiologist at NewYork-Presbyterian and director of education and outreach for the hospital's Ronald O. Perelman Heart Institute, told Becker's Hospital Review during an interview. "They just don't know what to do."

To boost bystanders' confidence in delivering CPR, clinicians at NewYork-Presbyterian in New York City partnered with Spotify to compile a playlist of songs at the right tempo for the procedure. The project, which went live in May 2017, gained recent attention after a screenshot of the playlist from Buzzfeed reporter Julia Reinstein went viral on Twitter. As of Oct. 23, her tweet boasts more than 111,000 likes and 46,000 retweets.

The playlist, which has nearly 79,000 followers, comprises 46 songs, all of which are 100 to 120 beats per minute — the recommended pace to perform chest compressions for CPR. It includes CPR education standbys like "Stayin' Alive" by the Bee Gees, alongside Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror," Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" and Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive."

In the playlist's description, NewYork-Presbyterian recommends listeners "pick one to remember in case you ever need to save a life."

"As a cardiologist, I have spent my whole career frustrated, resuscitating patients with no brain viability and hearing of athletes dying on the playing field unnecessarily because people do not know what to do — and it's so simple," Dr. Andersen said. "We want everyone to know how to save a life with hands-only CPR."

The playlist is part of NewYork-Presbyterian's Hands Only CPR initiative, a campaign to educate the public on how to intervene when someone experiences cardiac arrest. NewYork-Presbyterian launched the program a few years ago, after two hospital employees witnessed a patient experiencing cardiac arrest on the train. They performed CPR for 23 minutes before the train reached emergency personnel.

"This playlist is empowering," Dr. Andersen said. "Standing around helpless waiting for help to arrive is a horrible, traumatic experience … Instead of recoiling in fear when you see a victim in cardiac arrest, think of a 'Hands Only CPR' song and jump in — pushing down hard in the center of the chest to the beat."

To listen to NewYork-Presbyterian's playlist, click here.

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