NIH allocates little funding to cardiac arrest compared to other conditions

In a new analysis of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding, data shows that cardiac arrest receives just a fraction of the organization’s monetary support even though it’s the leading cause of death in the U.S.

The research, published July 12 in the Journal of the American Heart Association, includes data on NIH funding from 2007 to 2016 and is the first to examine the organization’s funding trends for cardiac arrest.

Over the past decade, NIH funding for cardiac arrest has declined from $35.4 million to $28.5 million. Looking at 2015 specifically, that breaks down to the NIH giving about $2,200 per each stroke death, $2,100 for each heart disease death and $91 for each cardiac arrest. What’s concerning to medical experts is that the funding lags way behind other conditions like diabetes and cancer, which receive $13,000 and $9,000 every year, respectively.

According to the American Heart Association, about 25 percent of people survive cardiac arrest in the hospital, and only 10 percent survive when not in a hospital.

Though cardiac arrest funding lags behind other conditions, the little money it does get helps fund vital research. The NIH funded the Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium, which led to overall survival increases from 10.2 to 12.4 percent from 2006 to 2015. Funding also distributes defibrillators, which can save lives outside of a hospital in an emergency.

“Research can lead to new resuscitation treatment strategies, innovative ways to identify people at risk for cardiac arrest and methods to optimize post-cardiac arrest care, to name a few,” said Ryan A. Coute, a medical student at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences who conducted the research while completing a Sarnoff fellowship at University of Michigan. “Our results show a lack of growth in the number of investigators funded by NIH to perform cardiac arrest research, which may suggest an inadequate pool of investigators focused on this disease. We should encourage physician-scientists from various fields of medicine, such as cardiology, neurology and critical care, to focus their talents on cardiac arrest research.”