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'Public' Defibrillators Saving Lives

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Posted: 2/3/2009

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Portable devices designed to reboot the heart and saving individuals from falling victims to the leading cause of death in the U.S. can increase survival rates simply by being nearby, according to a national expert on public placement of automatic external defibrillators at The Ohio State University Medical Center.

“There’s substantial evidence supporting the placement of AEDs in public buildings, offices, shopping malls, athletic clubs, hotels and restaurants,” says Dr. Michael Sayre, an emergency medicine physician at Ohio State’s Medical Center. “Public AEDs give a life-saving shock much faster than EMS and double the chance of survival.”

When a person’s heart unexpectedly stops beating, the victim needs to have their blood circulated using hands-only cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), followed quickly with the use of an automatic external defibrillator, or AED, that sends an electrical shock to the heart to restore a normal rhythm.

More than 90 percent of victims of sudden cardiac arrest die before receiving emergency medical assistance or reaching a hospital. Today, public AEDs are used on less than 2 percent of victims. According to Sayre, within three minutes of collapse, a bystander should ideally be able to access a nearby AED and administer the shock.

Sayre is part of a national campaign committed to increasing public presence of AEDs and training 20 million Americans each year how to give hands-only CPR and use and AED.

“AEDs are easy to use. You go get it. Turn it on and a voice prompts you to act. There is zero risk of the rescuer getting hurt because only the person with the cardiac arrest will receive the shock,” says Sayre.

According to Sayre, AEDs cost approximately $1,500. “Too many public places still do not have AEDs and this shortage is costing thousands of lives,” he says.

Sudden cardiac arrest kills approximately 325,000 Americans each year and is responsible for an estimated 1,000 deaths daily, according to the American Heart Association.

“If only 10 percent more are saved because public AEDs are widely available and used more than 30,000 mothers, husbands, fathers and wives will return to their families every single year,” says Sayre.


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Sherri L. Kirk
Medical Center Communications

OSU Medical Center