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Story on Yahoo about public AED's


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  • Story on Yahoo about public AED's

    Health - Reuters

    Public Defibrillator Training Saves Lives, Study Finds
    Tue Nov 11, 5:27 PM ET Add Health - Reuters to My Yahoo!

    By Lisa Richwine

    ORLANDO, Fla. (Reuters) - Nearly twice as many people survived cardiac arrest in public places where volunteers were trained to use a device to shock the victims' hearts into beating normally again, a study released on Tuesday found.

    The research is the largest study to date on the benefits of putting automatic external defibrillators in places such as shopping malls and office buildings.

    Researchers already knew that emergency personnel such as police officers can use the devices properly in such settings, but they wanted to find out if ordinary people trained to use defibrillators could save lives.

    "We were able to observe an approximate doubling in the number of survivors," Dr. Joseph Ornato, one of the researchers, told reporters at an annual meeting of the American Heart Association (news - web sites).

    Cardiac arrest is an abrupt loss of heart function often caused by irregular beating of the heart's lower chambers. Defibrillators can shock the heart back into normal rhythm, but they must be used within minutes.

    More than 460,000 people in the United States die annually from cardiac arrest outside of a hospital.


    The study enlisted about 20,000 volunteers in 24 U.S. and Canadian cities. Defibrillators were placed at 993 sites such as shopping centers, sports venues, apartment complexes and office buildings.

    One group was trained in how to use the defibrillator and to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR. Volunteers were told to call emergency services and start CPR, then use the defibrillator on a person in cardiac arrest.

    The other group received training only in CPR and was told to call an ambulance immediately.

    When patients were treated with CPR and a defibrillator, 29 out of 129 cardiac arrest victims survived. Only 15 out of 103 people survived when they received CPR alone.

    No injuries from defibrillator use were recorded, said Ornato, chairman of emergency medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University/Medical College of Virginia.

    The findings are encouraging because the automatic defibrillators are simple to use, said Dr. Raymond Gibbons, chairman of the heart association's scientific sessions committee.

    "Eighth graders could be quickly trained in how to use these devices," Gibbons said.

    The study was funded in part by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, which is conducting a separate 7,000-patient study to determine if providing defibrillators to families of heart attack patients will improve survival when cardiac arrest occurs at home.

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