AEDs important in schools for survival

Automated external defibrillator
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Schools with automated external defibrillators (AEDs) have better cardiac survival rates. This important fact is true for both students and nonstudents who may have a sudden cardiac arrest at a school event.

More than 92% of individuals suffering an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest do not survive to hospital discharge. The rate of survival declines 7% to 10% for each minute defibrillation is delayed.

Jonathan Drezner, MD, of the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues found in a survey of high schools with an AED program that 64% of cases of cardiac arrest survived to hospital discharge. Having an automated external defibrillator in the school is important to survival.

The researchers reported the results of their online in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association. Using the National Registry for AED Use in Sports, the researchers identified 1,710 U.S. high schools that had at least one AED.

The surveys were completed by school representatives. Most schools (83.5%) had established an emergency action plan for sudden cardiac arrest; 60% of those with a plan developed it in collaboration with local EMS. The plans were practiced and reviewed by only 40% on a yearly basis.

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Of the school respondents, 2.1% had had a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) occur on premises within the preceding six months. Most of the sudden cardiac arrests (97%) were witnessed. Most (94%) received CPR from a bystander. Most (83%) received an AED shock within minutes of the event.

The study identified 14 student-athletes (mean age 16) and 22 non-students, including teachers, coaches, visitors, and other adults (mean age 57), who had SCA on school grounds. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of cases survived to hospital discharge, including nine of 14 student-athletes and 14 of 22 non-students.

The importance of automated external defibrillators in schools is not just the devise, but also the preparation (CPR training, fully developed and executed emergency plans, links to EMS).

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Source reference:
Drezner J, et al "Effectiveness of emergency response planning for sudden cardiac arrest in United States high schools with automated external defibrillators" Circulation 2009; DOI: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.109.855890.

Atkins D "Public access defibrillation. Where does it work?" Circulation 2009; DOI: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.109.883488.

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