If you go into cardiac arrest while you’re out shopping for groceries or watching your child’s Little League game, your odds of survival are low. But there’s something that can help – widespread deployment of automated external defibrillators.
The latest evidence comes from Japan, where the country’s Fire Disaster Management Agency tracked 312,319 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests that occurred between January 2005 and December 2007. In 12,631 of those cases, the arrest was of cardiac origin, involved ventricular fibrillation and was witnessed by a bystander.
At the beginning of the study, when there were 0.11 public-access AEDs per square kilometer of inhabited area, only 1.2% of the victims got a shock from a bystander. By the end of the study, there were 0.97 AEDs per inhabited square kilometer, and bystanders gave shocks 6.2% of the time.
And how did those patients do? Nearly 32% of those who received shocks from bystanders using public-access AEDs were alive and had “minimal neurologic impairment” after one month. That may not sound very high, but it’s much better than the 14.4% rate for all patients who had a cardiac arrest in the presence of a bystander but didn’t get a shock until emergency medical crews arrived on the scene.
The researchers found that as more AEDs were deployed at schools, offices, sports facilities and other public venues throughout the country, the average time it took for someone to administer a shock or begin CPR fell from 3.6 minutes to 2.9 minutes.
Los Angeles Times Health Blog, March 18, 2010
We owe some of the impetus to placing AED’s to Los Vegas, where a paramedic started a successful movement to get AED’s placed in the casinos. You actually have a better chance of surviving cardiac arrest in a casino in Vegas than in the hospital — you are more likely to be closer to an AED.
After I had severe heart attack, I bought a home AED; it sat next to my bed for a year. (The risk of having sudden cardiac arrest after a major heart attack is greatly increased because of the scarring in the heart.) It hasn’t been used, but it nice to know it is there….
Do you know where the AED’s are in your community? Do your schools have one? The grocery stores?