Study on cardiac arrest highlights benefit of public AEDs

Washington – Cardiac arrests that can be treated by an automated external defibrillator are more common in public settings than at home, according to a study released Jan. 26 from the National Institutes of Health.

Comparing data from more than 14,000 cardiac arrest patients, researchers found a higher percentage of ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation – the types of abnormal heart rhythms that can be treated through electric shock – occurred in public settings. More than one-third of people treated in public with an AED survived, which is significantly higher than the overall national average cardiac arrest survival rate of 8 percent. The at-home survival rate for cardiac arrests treated with an AED was 12 percent.

“These survival results affirm the value of putting AEDs in public locales,” said Myron Weisfeldt, lead author of the study. “Even though the overall frequency of VT/VF arrests has declined over the past few decades, they are still a fairly common occurrence in public settings.”

Researchers suggested the difference in cardiac arrest types in public settings versus home settings may be due to the fact that individuals who spend more time in public places may be younger and more active, making them more predisposed to VT/VF arrest. The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine (Vol. 364, No. 4).

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