Why is it important to have a network of working and available AEDs in the UK?

Many recent publications have praised the massive increase in survival rate from cardiac arrest in Denmark. Rates of survival have tripled over the last ten years! Read more here. The survival rate is still quite a small percentage, rising from 3% in 2001 to 10% in 2010. This is partly due to the increase in bystander CPR from 22% in 2001, to 45% in 2010. What more can be done? Early defibrillation!

“Many more lives could be saved with improved and earlier cardiopulmonary
resuscitation (CPR), and the public could be better informed and trained about what
to do when they witness a cardiac arrest or someone with symptoms suggesting a
heart attack. Bystander CPR doubles survival rates and yet is attempted in only
20-30% of cases. There is scope for all emergency service personnel to be trained in
CPR, and for basic life support skills to be more widely taught, perhaps as part of
volunteering programmes in schools and in the workplace. Wider availability of
automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) could also save additional lives.” *1

Survival rates in Seattle (King County) have risen from 26% in 2002 to 57% in 2012. Studies have shown a 70-80% chance of survival if defibrillation can be performed immediately on a heart that is in Ventricular Fibrillation (VF). VF is when the electrical activity of the heart becomes so chaotic that the heart stops pumping and quivers or ‘fibrillates’ instead. The most common cause of cardiac arrest is VF.

Many organisations now recognise the need for a defibrillator. The next vital step is to ensure that it is ready to use. Firstly the machine itself, has battery power and in-date pads. Secondly, the rescuers should preferably be trained in the use of a defibrillator, but if not, anyone can use a defibrillator by following the instructions it gives.

*1 – Cardiovascular Disease Outcomes Strategy (Department of Health)