You can make a difference!
Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is the leading cause of death in the United States, striking more than 326,000 people each year. Adults are the most frequent victims of SCA, but it can strike anyone, anywhere, at any time. Without immediate cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillation (an electric shock to the heart), survival is unlikely.
SCA occurs when the heart suddenly and without warning stops beating, cutting off blood and oxygen to the brain, heart and other vital organs. Without oxygen to the brain, the victim immediately loses consciousness and collapses. SCA is most often caused by an abrupt disruption of the heart’s electrical system, resulting in a chaotic quivering of the heart called ventricular fibrillation. The best treatment for ventricular fibrillation is defibrillation, a coordinated and controlled electric shock to the heart.
It is well documented that survival from SCA drops by 7% to 10% each minute that defibrillation is delayed from time of collapse. Even in the best emergency medical systems (EMS), the chance of survival is greatly reduced due to the time it takes to complete the 911 call, dispatch units, respond to the location and access the victim.
The best chance of survival from SCA is immediate care from bystanders providing CPR and defibrillation with an automated external defibrillator (AED). In fact, when bystanders initiate immediate CPR and provide defibrillation prior to EMS arrival, survival is 2 times more likely, with survival rates of 50%-60%.
Your organization can make a difference in the survival from SCA by implementing an early defibrillation program that includes an emergency plan for responding to SCA, installing AEDs in strategic locations in your facility and training potential responders in CPR and use of an AED.
MDSI’s experienced staff will work with you to implement your early defibrillation program and provide the oversight and ongoing support to assure response readiness and full compliance with state and local regulation.
Heart Attack vs. Cardiac Arrest
People often use “sudden cardiac arrest” and “heart attack” inter-changeably, but they shouldn’t. A heart attack is when blood flow to the heart is blocked and sudden cardiac arrest is when the heart malfunctions and suddenly stops beating unexpectedly. A heart attack is a “circulation” problem and sudden cardiac arrest is an “electrical” problem.
While a severe heart attack can lead to cardiac arrest, most often the victim of a heart attack experiences increasingly severe symptoms such as chest pain that may radiate to the arms, neck or back, shortness of breath, weakness or nausea. If you or someone you are with experiences heart attack symptoms, call 911 immediately and calmly wait for EMS to arrive. Driving to the hospital is not a good idea and when EMS arrives, the providers can provide the same initial care as the hospital emergency room and assure that the victim is transported to a hospital with a cardiac center designation.
- Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics — 2015 Update: A Report From the American Heart Association
- Weisfeldt ML, Sitlani CM, Ornato JP, et al. Survival after application of automated external defibrillators before arrival of the emergency medical system: Evaluation in the Resuscitation outcomes consortium population of 21 million. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2010;55(16): 1,713-1,720.