New study: People given CPR twice as likely to survive cardiac arrest

By Lori Brown

A new study found people are more than twice as likely to survive a cardiac arrest if they receive CPR.

Nearly four years ago, a University Park man’s basic knowledge of CPR saved his wife's life, and now, they’re encouraging others to learn CPR.
Every little moment in life is now precious for Marla Sewall, a mother of four.

“I wake up grateful each and every day that I'm here,” she said.

Sewall, an avid runner and tennis player, never imagined she was a candidate for sudden cardiac arrest. But four years ago on Labor Day weekend, it happened to her.

She was staying up to watch the U.S. Open after her husband had gone to bed.

In the peak of training for the Chicago Marathon, she had run 20 miles earlier that day in the Texas heat and played in a tennis tournament.

“That evening, I wasn't feeling good,” she said. “I must have come in here to take a shower. I fell head first and landed…with my head facing up."

Her husband, Cary Sewall, believes divine intervention woke him up.

He heard water running.

“As I walked toward the bathroom, the carpet was soaking wet,” he said.

Then he saw his wife under water.

“She was very blue,” he said.

Cary had not had a CPR class in years.

“Grabbed her, pulled her out, started screaming at her, started CPR immediately, pumping her chest, pumping her chest,” said Cary.

His thoughts raced.

"‘How did this happen?’” said Cary. “‘How did she get like that? Four kids, no mom?’ [After] what seemed like eternity, she gurgled and spit a little water."

Marla started breathing. 

“I probably didn't do it right, but I did something,” said Cary.

Twenty-four hours later, she woke up at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. She had no idea what had happened.
The number of people who survive a sudden cardiac arrest out of a hospital is only three percent, but the Journal of the American Medical Association found that when bystanders step in, the survival rate, while still low, more than doubles to eight percent.
Dr. Gary Weinstein helped treat Marla at Texas Health Presbyterian.

New recommendations found that chest compressions alone can save a life.

Weinstein hopes that will encourage more people to learn CPR.

“That stranger on the sidewalk might be you or your family, and you would want someone to help,” he said.