A defibrillator is the only device that can help restart a heart when someone has a cardiac arrest and their heart is in an abnormal rhythm. When a defibrillator is used, the survival rate of a patient can increase from just 3% to up to 74%, but a speedy response is crucial. This is why it is essential that nobody in the UK is ever further than 100m away from a lifesaving defibrillator.
This is particularly important in rural areas of the country where an ambulance may take longer to reach.
Not only do we need more defibrillators in communities, but we also need more people trained in how to use them. It's a common myth that defibrillators can only be used by trained professionals, and many people are often afraid to use one in case they cause more harm. We always strongly recommend that everyone undergoes CPR and defibrillator training, but when someone has a cardiac arrest, it's better to attempt CPR and defibrillation than to not do anything at all. Moreover, a defibrillator will not deliver a shock if one isn’t needed, so it’s impossible to shock somebody by accident - unless somebody is touching the patient when a shock is delivered. But it’s worth knowing that defibrillators provide clear audio instructions as soon as you switch it on, so it will remind you to stand back if a shock is advised.
Defibrillators are so important and should be available in all public places and businesses, from leisure centres, workplaces, shopping centre, supermarkets, schools and community areas across the UK.
◦ 270 children die in the UK every year after suffering a Sudden Cardiac Arrest at school.
◦ Based on European data, it is estimated that there is approximately 60,000 Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrests occur every year in the UK.
◦ Approximately 80% of Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrests occur at Home; 20% will occur in public places.
◦ Without immediate treatment, 90-95% of Sudden Cardiac Arrest victims will die.
◦ If a defibrillator is used and effective CPR is performed within 3-5 minutes of cardiac arrest, their chance of survival increases from 6% to 74%.
◦ Only 22% of people in the UK would be confident in performing CPR on a stranger.
◦ 30% of UK adults have said they would be unlikely to perform CPR on someone suffering a cardiac arrest.
What causes a Sudden Cardiac Arrest?
◦ Sudden Cardiac Arrest can strike at any time without any prior warning.
◦ Factors such as the patient's current health condition, gender, age and ethnicity do not factor in when determining the cause of SCA.
◦ Most Sudden Cardiac Arrest cases are due to an abnormality of the heart's electrical rhythm called Ventricular Fibrillation (VF).
◦ Physically strenuous jobs will put people at a higher risk of suffering Sudden Cardiac Arrest.
◦ Factors such as having a high blood pressure reading, obesity, smoking, high cholesterol levels, congenital heart disease (CHD) and diabetes can make a person more susceptible to SCA.
◦ Accidents such as electrocution, drowning, trauma, choking or respiratory arrest can potentially lead to a Sudden Cardiac Arrest.
Is a heart attack and a cardiac arrest the same thing?
Cardiac arrest is an electrical problem with the heart: If a person is unconscious, not breathing & has no pulse, start CPR immediately as they are likely to be in cardiac arrest.
Heart attack is a circulation problem: A heart attack happens when there is a sudden loss of blood flow to a part of your heart muscle. Most heart attacks are caused by coronary heart disease. Heart attack suffers will probably be conscious & the most common signs of a heart attack are:
1. Chest pain (tightness, heaviness, pain or a burning feeling in your chest).
2. Pain in arms, neck, jaw, back or stomach (for some people, the pain or tightness is severe, while other people just feel uncomfortable).
4. Feeling light-headed.
5. Becoming short of breath.
6. Feeling nauseous or vomiting.
A heart attack can lead to a cardiac arrest if untreated. Both are life threatening and you should call 999 if you or someone you know is suffering from a suspected heart attack or cardiac arrest.