In medical emergencies involving cardiac arrest, publicly available automated external defibrillators (AEDs) can significantly increase heart attack survival when used by bystanders before first responders arrive on the scene, according to a report published in Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association (AHA).
About 100,000 of the more than 350,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests that occur in the United States every year happen outside of the home. According to the AHA, less than half of these heart attack victims get help in the amount of time – 4 to 10 minutes, on average – it takes for emergency medical personal to arrive.
For this study, a team of U.S. and Canadian researchers examined data on 49,555 cardiac arrests that happened outside of hospitals in major cities. In a sub-group of these – those that occurred in public places, were witnessed by bystanders, and were shockable – the researchers found that nearly 66 percent of victims on whom a bystander used an AED survived to hospital discharge, compared to 43 percent who did not receive immediate AED intervention.