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Widespread Public Defibrillators May Save Lives
Date:3/17/2010

than 312,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests. They found that 12,631 of these people had cardiac arrest with ventricular fibrillation, a type of irregular heart rhythm that is possible to correct with defibrillation, and their cardiac arrest was witnessed by bystanders.

Lay people used public-access AEDs in 3.7 percent of these cases during the three-year study period. As the availability of AEDs increased, so did the use of public-access AEDs, from 1.2 percent at the start of the study to 6.2 percent at the end.

The average time before someone with cardiac arrest received a defibrillator shock decreased from 3.7 to 2.2 minutes. And, the average number of people who survived with minimal neurological impairment increased from 2.4 to 8.9 people per 10 million.

Results of the study are published in the March 18 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

"This critically important research is the first to demonstrate that on a national level, increasing AEDs can improve survival," said Dr. Anthony Aizer, an assistant professor in the department of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. "It is likely to change efforts in many industrialized countries to provide greater access to AEDs. However, it must also be taken in the context of other research. AEDs improve survival in airports and casinos, but have not proven to be beneficial in homes."

While the study found that both AED use and CPR could be lifesaving, many people hesitated to use either technique. Just 7 percent of bystanders were willing to use an AED and just 50 percent initiated CPR.

"It's terrifying to see someone dying in front of you, and people may panic or be scared to use a defibrillator or try CPR," explained Dr. Dana Peres Edelson, an assistant professor and director of clinical research at the Emergency Resuscitation Center at the University of Chicago Medical Center. "But, AEDs are made so that someone who's ne
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