Location, Location, DefibrillationIN NEW DEVELOPMENTS IN MEDICINE
A recent study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found a wide discrepancy between the success rates of cardiac arrests that could be resolved with shock when they occurred in public rather than private.
Between 2005 and 2007, more than 33 percent of individuals who suffered cardiac arrest in public and received automatic external defibrillator (AED) treatment survived, compared to 12 percent of those experiencing at-home incidents followed by shock with an AED. This means the divergence has more to do with the type of cardiac arrest than the availability of electric stimulation.
More than 60 percent of documented cardiac arrests that occurred at home during the time of the study were not shockable. In contrast, nearly 80 percent of arrests that occurred in very public areas were. Researchers speculated that this might result from the tendency of less active, older individuals with multiple chronic conditions to spend relatively little time engaging in public activities.
The study resulted in an affirmation of public AED placements. Although the number of cardiac arrests has been in decline, AEDs can be a great benefit to communities because so many public cardiac arrests are shockable.
The study also found that people at risk for cardiac arrest benefit from having friends and family nearby. Although this doesn’t change the type of arrest, the study found that it greatly increases survival rates, confirming the need for individuals at risk for cardiac arrest to have access to a mobile phone.
Attack or Arrest?
Cardiac arrest is sometimes mistakenly termed a “heart attack.” Actually, these are two different health issues. Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart stops beating. It can be caused by heart failure, congenital abnormalities or even electrocution, but whatever the cause, the result is blood ceases to pump throughout the body.
A heart attack, on the other hand, occurs when the heart is injured due to blood-supply blockage. Unlike cardiac arrest, heart attacks occur when individuals are conscious. The heart continues beating during a heart attack, but in severe cases, it could stop, leading to cardiac arrest.
In either case, the first witness action should be calling 911. In case of a heart attack, the victim should rest until emergency services arrive. If cardiac arrest occurs, responders should begin chest compressions and locate and use an AED.
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Sources: nih.gov, sca-aware.org, heart.org