On-site AEDs save lives in sport centres


Every year, over 2 million people die from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) around the world. Many of these incidents occur in sports facilities where people are exerting themselves. The most important determinant in the survival of victims who suffer a sudden cardiac arrest is the length of time before receiving a shock from an AED. Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) were invented specifically to provide early defibrillation outside hospitals. A recent study showed how locating the devices in sports facilities could greatly increase survival rates.

The American Heart Association (AHA) and European Resuscitation Council recommend defibrillation response within 5 minutes for out-of-hospital events, and 3 minutes for in-hospital events. Currently, the response time from onset of SCA to first defibrillation shock varies greatly, with out-of-hospital survival rates averaging only 5%.

Every extra minute that passes between collapse and defibrillation, reduces the chance of survival by 7% to 10% if no CPR is provided. Even with bystander CPR, the decrease in survival rates still averages 3% to 4% per minute. CPR extends the window of time during which defibrillation can occur. But CPR alone is unlikely to save the patient.

The recent study centred on the Italian region of Piacenza where, since 1990, an emergency medical system has been co-ordinating medical emergencies, including out-of-hospital SCAs.

In 1999 the Piacenza Progetto Vita (PPV) was established to enable rapid defibrillation. The PPV promoted the placing of AEDs in sports centres and exercise facilities. Since 1999, some 725 AEDs were installed throughout the region, with 207 (28.5%) sited in amateur sports centres.

The researchers collected data from 26 SCA cases that occurred in a sports centre or facility since 1999. An on-site AED was present in 15 cases (58%) and the average connection time was just over five minutes. As anticipated, the presence of on-site AEDs in sports facilities reduced the connection time. The study found that having an AED on-site increased survival rates (93% in on-site AED versus 9% in non-equipped facilities).

The research paper concluded that the presence of on-site AEDs is associated with neurologically intact survival after an exercise-related SCA. The study’s authors strongly recommended the continuing introduction of AEDs in sports and fitness centres.

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