February is #LoveYourHeart Month

Cardiac Arrest in the Community & the use of Defibrillators

Dr Lifson is passionate about improving survival from cardiac arrest in our communities.  He has spent 30 years as a doctor working in pre-hospital, general practice and hospitals, undertaking cardiology research in heart attack clot busting drugs.

The Facts

This month in Scotland 575 people will die from a cardiac arrest and the vast majority of these victims will die before reaching the hospital. When a person has a cardiac arrest in the community:

  • Less than 2% will receive life-saving defibrillation before the ambulance arrives.
  • Less than 40% of UK victims receive bystander CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation).
  • Resuscitation is only attempted by ambulance crews in less than 50% of these victims, 50% are already dead.
  • Less than 10% of victims survive to be discharged from hospital in the UK compared to 20-25% in other countries.

The Chain of Survival

How do we reduce the amount of deaths each month in Scotland from cardiac arrest? The Chain of Survival below describes 4 key and related steps, if delivered effectively can dramatically improve survival from community cardiac arrests.  Click here for guidelines from the 2015 UK Resuscitation Council for adult basic life support and AED.

Hospital Care vs Community Response

Dr Lifson has been involved in thousands of cardiac arrests across the divide of community and hospitals and seen the vast improvements in the management of heart attack patients within the NHS.  In Scotland, we are extremely fortunate to have cardiology centers of excellence, once patients reach hospital.  We should be proud of the highest level of cardiac care patients receive.

Sadly, this has not been matched by major improvements in the community in terms of cardiac arrest victim survival. We require a high-level commitment to provide the above 5 actions to raise awareness of the key issues in the Chain of Survival.

Learning from Japan

In Japan, the government has promoted a large-scale campaign for CPR training and public access defibrillation, including:

  • Active promotion of the safety of members of the public using defibrillators.
  • The number of public access defibrillators has increased from 10,961 to 428,821 (2005-2013).
  • The percentage of patients receiving shocks from public access defibrillators increased from 1.1% in 2005 to 16.5% in 2013.

In Japan, there are approximately 1 public access defibrillators per 300 people compared to 1 public access defibrillators per 18,000 people in the UK.

 5 Main Actions 

What can the Scottish Government, local authorities and communities do? These 5 main actions are required to improve UK survival from community cardiac arrests:

  1. All school children taught CPR and how to use an AED.
  2. All people who are able should be taught CPR.
  3. Widespread placement of public access defibrillators.
  4. Defibrillators should all be nationally registered online and regional ambulance services aware of their locations.
  5. Ambulance service can deploy the nearest available defibrillator to the scene of a cardiac arrest.

What Can You Do?

Get involved with the British Heart Foundation CPR/Defibrillator training schemes and become a life saver in your community.

Be part of the tremendous work of the Trossachs Search and Rescue Team who provide free community training.  The team have provided 100 public access defibrillators in the Trossachs and surrounding areas.  They have also developed an app for CPR/Defibrillators guidance and provide the location and details of all 100 defibrillators.

Help create a nation of life savers and learn CPR and how to use a defibrillator.