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The Survival Chain

THE FACTS ON CARDIAC ARREST

Cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death in Australia accounting for 33,000 deaths each year. Cardiac arrest claims a life every 2 minutes. Often there are no warning signs. Cardiac arrest often affects those who experience a heart attack, or heart failure, however it can also strike someone with no heart history of heart problems. Sudden death from cardiac arrest is common in young athletes.

WHAT IS AN AED?

AED stands for automated external defibrillator. An AED is a portable medical device that when used in a cardiac arrest, can analyse a persons heart rhythm to determine if an electric shock is required. If an electric shock is delivered in time, it is possible to revert a cardiac arrest.

WHO CAN USE AN AED?

Almost anyone can use an AED. AED’s are designed to be used by people who have not necessarily undertaken any formal training. AED’s can be operated simply by following a series of verbal and visual prompts by the machine when applied to an unconscious patient in a cardiac arrest.


WHY DO I NEED AN AED?

Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when the electrical system of the heart stops working effectively and the heart stops pumping. When this occurs, blood stops flowing to the heart, brain and other vital organs. Within seconds the victim collapses and becomes completely unresponsive, loses consciousness, stops breathing and has no pulse.

About 50% of the time, the victim is suffering from a heart rhythm disorder called ventricular fibrillation (VF). VF can happen to anyone – even someone who appears to be perfectly healthy. In this case, the casualty needs high quality CPR and if available a defibrillation shock from an AED

Sudden cardiac arrest can happen to any body any time under a variety of circumstances. A sudden cardiac arrest out of hospital can be treated successfully with CPR and access to an AED. Survival rate of out of hospital cardiac arrest in Australia each year is only 9%. The only way to improve this is to have effective CPR being performed and early access to defibrillation. The probability an AED will be available in the community is only 2%. Where an AED is available and a shock is delivered in 1 minute, the chance of survival increases to 90%.