Between 2021 and 2023, the proportions of Latino and Black Americans who feel confident performing conventional cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) (also known as mouth-to-mouth resuscitation) increased, according to a new American Heart Association (AHA) survey.


The survey involved nearly 1,300 Americans ages 18 to 80. The survey found that 44% of Latinos feel confident performing conventional CPR compared with 37% in 2021. Similarly, Black Americans’ confidence performing CPR increased from 30% to 44% in 2023.


In the United States, Latino and Black Americans, two groups that have experienced longstanding structural racism and lack of access to education and health care, are at higher risk for cardiac arrest outside of a hospital setting as well as worse survival outcomes.


Without timely CPR, cardiac arrest is usually fatal, according to the AHA. In fact, a person experiencing cardiac arrest outside of a hospital has an estimated 10% chance of surviving.


A 2017 study found that only 39% of women in cardiac arrest received CPR from strangers, compared with 45% of men. The odds of surviving were 23% higher for men compared with women.


Latino and Black folks are less likely to receive help during a cardiac emergency because of low rates of bystander knowledge of CPR in their communities, according to AHA volunteer expert Anezi Uzendu, MD, an interventional cardiologist at the University of Texas Southwestern and a cardiac arrest survivor.


According to the survey nearly one out of three people worry they will incorrectly perform CPR on someone. What’s more, about a quarter of people had never heart of Good Samaritan Laws, which protect volunteers who provide aid to an injured person in an emergency.


To teach Latinos and African Americans hands-only CPR, which is simpler but also effective,  the AHA launched the “Héroes Salvando Corazones/Heroes Saving Hearts” campaign in 2022. The campaign promotes a two-step method of CPR that does not include breaths but advises bystanders to first call 911 and then push hard and fast in the center of a person’s chest at a rate of 100 to 120 beats per minute.


“The American Heart Association’s efforts to provide people from all backgrounds and walks of life with the information to properly perform CPR is already increasing confidence in performing CPR amongst Black and Hispanic neighborhoods,” Uzendu said. “However, we still have a lot of work to do to equip communities and save more lives.”