Washington: Twitter has the potential to become a lifesaver by providing important heath-related information to people during emergencies, a new study has found.
The University of Pennsylvania researchers, who evaluated health related discussions on Twitter for over a month, found that users of the popular microblogging site frequently share vital information about cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and automated external defibrillators (AEDs) and discuss resuscitation topics in the news.
CPR is an emergency procedure to manually preserve brain functioning during a cardiac arrest. AED is a portable device to treats life-threatening cardiac conditions.
The trend on Twitter shows that it represents a promising avenue to respond to queries from the public and disseminate information about this leading killer -- particularly in the areas of CPR training and lifesaving interventions such as therapeutic hypothermia, the researchers said.
"Twitter is an incredible resource for connecting and mobilising people, and it offers users a way to receive instant feedback and information. The potential applications of social media for cardiac arrest are vast," Raina Merchant, an assistant professor of Emergency Medicine, said in a statement.
"Health care providers and advocacy groups can push information to the public about CPR training and best practices in cardiac arrest care, and participate in real-time discussions about cardiac arrest issues in the media.
"Twitter might even be harnessed to save lives in an emergency, by allowing bystanders who respond to cardiac arrests in public places to seek information about the location of the closest AED," Merchant said.
First Published: Sunday, November 13, 2011, 18:21