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Heart Attacks at School Involve More Adults Than Kids
Date:8/27/2007

Whether defibrillators should be available an open question, researcher says

MONDAY, Aug. 27 (HealthDay News) -- When a student dies from cardiac arrest while on school grounds, it makes the evening news, but the actual incidence of heart attacks on school property is rare, and most of the victims are adults, researchers report.

After reviewing 16 years of emergency medical service calls in the Seattle area, researchers found that faculty and staff were 25 times more likely than students to suffer cardiac arrest. The report is in the Sept. 18 issue of Circulation.

"Cardiac arrest does occur in schools, though it is quite uncommon," said lead researcher Dr. Tom Rea, an associate professor of medicine at Harborview Medical Center and the University of Washington School of Medicine. "It is much more likely to occur in adults as opposed to students."

The goal of the study is to provide data to people who are considering how they want to set up emergency response systems in schools, Rea said.

"This study gives the backbone for policymakers and schools to make the decision of how much priority are they going to give to cardiac arrest, especially implementing automated external defibrillator (AED) programs," Rea said.

In the study, Rea's team looked at 3,773 cardiac arrests in King County, Washington, that occurred between January 1990 and December 2005. Of these cases, 97 occurred in the 641 schools that ranged from preschools to colleges. In seven of those cardiac arrests, the affiliation between the victim and the school was unknown.

The researchers found that of the remaining 90 cases, 12 students suffered cardiac arrest -- eight were 18 or younger. There were 33 cardiac arrests among faculty and staff. In addition, 45 adults who had no connection to the school had cardiac arrest while on school property that included sports fields and tracks.

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