The remaining question is what, if anything, should be done by schools to prepare for these rare events. The idea that has gotten the most attention is training school personnel in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and early defibrillation using AEDs. AEDs are used to restart the heart after cardiac arrest.
Rea was noncommittal about what should be done. "It is a loaded question," he said. "When a tragic event occurs in a school, it has far-reaching effects. Although these events are extremely uncommon, you have to decide if you want to be prepared for even the most uncommon event. It's a decision that individual schools or school districts have to grapple with."
One expert thinks these findings show the need for expanding CPR training and the availability of AEDs in schools.
"It is estimated that over 350,000 individuals die of sudden cardiac arrest in the U.S. each year," said Dr. Gregg C. Fonarow, a professor of cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles. "Improved cardiac arrest recognition and emergency activation, early CPR, and early defibrillation, including the use of AEDs, can significantly increase the chances of surviving sudden cardiac arrest."
This study provides important community-based data on the incidence, circumstances and outcome of cardiac arrest in the school setting, Fonarow said. "This study found that half of the student cardiac arrests were not associated with physical exertion or sports participation, and student risk was similar for elementary school, middle school, high school and college," he said.
The majority of cardiac arrests in schools occurred among adults, Fonarow noted. "The finding supports the assertion that school-based CPR and AED programs would benefit not only students, but faculty, staff members, as well as school
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