American Heart Association 2013 – Science to the Rescue

american heart association sudden cardiac arrest

At The American Heart Association’s 2013 Scientific Sessions, experts from across the medical field shed light on the latest science and best practices to help prevent sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) in the lives of every day people, especially young athletes.

On the first day of the Scientific Sessions the focus hovered around a symposium on resuscitation. It is a fitting topic to start the session on too as many people are affected by sudden cardiac arrest each year.

SCA is a leading cause of death among adults over the age of 40 in the United States (and other nations). Approximately 360,000 people of all ages experience SCA each year (or 1,000 per day), and nine out of 10 victims who have a SCA episode unfortunately die.

Seek help from the community:

There can and has been much discussed and debated on healthy lifestyles and steps that can be taken to avoid increasing one’s exposure to a SCA episode. However, with that said, there also needs to be a major focus on what to do when an event or episode does occur.

Too often treatment to SCA victims is grim. In many developed countries fewer than 10% of patients survive an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest episode. These survival rates can be easily improved through knowledge and proper training.

The truth is that out-of-hospital cardiac-arrest victims can’t help themselves; neither can their doctors. In fact, what is needed is akin the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister David Cameron’s idea of the Big Society in which everyday citizens contribute a more active and larger role. Laypersons can indeed play a key and important role in increasing the number of SCA victims that survive. When bystanders intervene by giving CPR and using automated external defibrillators (AEDs) before emergency crews arrive, 40% of victims survive.

A little education goes a long way:

Another presentation at the symposium was a study led by Dr. Ashish Panchal of the Ohio State University Medical Center. Dr. Panchal sought to find whether or not SCA victims could receive higher quality chest compressions following a 60-second video on compression-only CPR. Roughly half the participants were shown the 60-second video while the other half was given no training at all. As a result, those who had watched the 60-second video called 911 more frequently (52% as compared to the control group’s 21%). The “educated” group also responded to giving chest compressions quicker than the control group.

Proper education, training, and quick, decisive action is needed to decrease the number of lives cut short by SCA.

In Good Heart Health,

Eric Schroeder



Newman, MS, M. (n.d.). Sudden cardiac arrest: A healthcare crisis. Retrieved from

Panchal, D. A. (n.d.).Session viii-best original resuscitation science poster session and reception.

Mandrola, John.  Aha 2013 day 1: Improving survival in cardiac arrest—a worthy goal!.


American Heart Association 2013 – Science to the Rescue

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