DALLAS, Death from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) can be significantly reduced if cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillation are administered before emergency medical services (EMS) arrive, according to an editorial in todays Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.
A related study, also in todays issue, indicates that cardiac arrest victims who received early CPR from dispatcher-assisted bystanders before EMS arrived had higher survival rates than those who did not.
In the United States, cardiac arrests suffered outside a hospital kill about 220,000 people a year.
In the editorial, Douglas P. Zipes, M.D., notes that studies on casinos and airplanes that have installed automated external defibrillators (AEDs) and trained people to use them show that people who suffer SCA there have a greater than 50 percent chance of being resuscitated and surviving to hospital discharge.
However, in most cities only 3 percent to 5 percent of those who have cardiac arrest at home survive until they are discharged from the hospital. People at home lose precious minutes before resuscitation either because they are alone or because they must await the arrival of EMS, he says. Those who have cardiac arrest on airplanes and in casinos have a better chance of being resuscitated by someone onsite with access to an AED.
The most important point is that 75 percent of sudden deaths occur in the home, and we need to create an approach that can rapidly deliver CPR and defibrillation to the home. For every minute lost in the resuscitation process, the risk of death increases by 10 percent, says Zipes, who is a distinguished professor of medicine and head of the division of cardiology at the Krannert Institute of Cardiology, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis. Zipes also is president of the American College of Cardiology.