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Public Defibrillators Save Lives
Date:4/16/2010

Widespread use could prevent 474 deaths a year in U.S., Canada, study says

FRIDAY, April 16 (HealthDay News) -- Placing automatic external defibrillators in public places across the United States and Canada could save the lives of 474 people who otherwise would die of cardiac arrest each year, researchers report.

Previous studies have found similar lifesaving results for defibrillators in more limited setting, such as casinos or airports, noted study author Dr. Myron L. Weisfeldt, chairman of the department of medicine at Johns Hopkins University.

"But this is in a much broader setting than airports or casinos, where security guards might be available," Weisfeldt said. "This is a first report of real-world experience, how effective they are when in large cities."

The findings will be published in the April 20 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

The study included almost 14,000 people who suffered cardiac arrest in public places in seven U.S. cities and three Canadian ones between December 2005 and May 2007.

Researchers found public defibrillator-linked benefits similar to those observed in earlier, smaller studies. "All had survival rates of 40 to 50 percent," Weisfeldt said. "This [study] showed that about 38 percent of these people reached a hospital alive, which compares very nicely."

In contrast, the survival rate for people who did not get treatment with an external defibrillator, which delivers a shock to get the heart beating again, was as low as 9 percent, the study found.

That low rate was found for the 32 percent of cases in which someone who suffered cardiac arrest had cardiopulmonary resuscitation -- regular pressure on the chest to keep blood flowing -- but not a defibrillator shock. The survival rate was 38 percent for those who got a defibrillator shock.

The findings were similar to those of a Japanese study reported la
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