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Cardiac Arrest Less Deadly in Exercise Facilities, Study Finds
Date:5/5/2011

By Randy Dotinga
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, May 5 (HealthDay News) -- You stand a better chance of survival if your heart stops beating while you're in an exercise facility than if you're in another type of indoor public place, a new study found.

Overall, 50 percent of cardiac arrest victims survived if the attack occurred in a public place where some sort of exercise was happening, whereas only 36 percent of those who experienced cardiac arrest in other indoor public places survived. Exercise facilities included places traditionally thought of, such as gyms and fitness clubs, as well as places considered alternative exercise venues, such as bowling alleys and dance studios.

"Survival from sudden cardiac arrest with prompt resuscitation can really be quite high at exercise facilities," said lead researcher Dr. Richard L. Page, a cardiac electrophysiologist and chairman of the Department of Medicine at the University of Wisconsin. "That relates to the fact that people are healthier, they're feeling fit enough to go exercise, and they had a higher likelihood of CPR."

"We shouldn't just be deploying [automated external defibrillators] at fitness clubs," Page said. "We ought to consider less traditional exercise facilities as having patients at risk who could benefit from prompt resuscitation."

Though it's often confused with heart attack, sudden cardiac arrest is actually a different phenomenon.

Heart attack is a "plumbing problem," Page said. A blockage in the vessels of the heart cuts off blood flow, and part of the heart muscle dies. In some cases, a cardiac arrest can also occur.

Sudden cardiac arrest, Page explained, is caused by a disruption in the heart's electrical system. "You're unconscious within seconds and you're dead in 10 minutes if you don't get CPR and a defibrillation," he said. "The chance of survival is only a couple percent if you can't get immediate attention."

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