October is Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month and presents a good opportunity to take stock of workplace safety equipment and training for sudden cardiac arrests (SCA).
The American Heart Association (AHA) reports there are more than 356,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests (OHCA) annually in the U.S. Globally, more people are killed by cardiac arrest than breast cancer, prostate cancer, influenza, pneumonia, vehicular accidents, HIV, firearms, and house fires combined.
During Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month take the time to ensure you are prepared - (re)train staff on the practices, procedures and equipment for SCAs in the workplace. To assist in this awareness drive, here are 5 SCA statistics that are essential to know for the workplace, so that you and your team are prepared.
- 10,000 sudden cardiac arrests occur annually in American workplaces
According to the AHA, there are 10,000 cardiac arrests annually in the workplace. And with just 50% of people being able to locate an automated external defibrillator (AED) at work, this paints an unfortunate picture of nationwide SCA preparation.
However, the CDC paints a more positive picture if measures and training are in place. According to their Cardiac Arrest Infographic, “Early, high-quality CPR, including compression only CPR, and use of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) immediately following cardiac arrest can reduce morbidity and save lives.”
- Sudden cardiac arrest can affect anyone
Sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in the United States and it does not discriminate. According to this Sudden Cardiac Awareness Month resource, Public Health Maps notes that “Anyone can experience Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA), including infants, children, teens, young adults and people in their 30s and 40s who have no sign of heart disease, as well as more mature adults.” They also report that in 95% of cases, the victim is lost.
In order to increase a victim’s chance of survival, they must receive CPR and life-saving defibrillation from an automated external defibrillator (AED) within the first four to six minutes of the event. Hands-only CPR can help until an AED arrives, but every minute that passes without intervention decreases the survival rate by 10%.
- 25% of victims present no symptoms before an SCA
The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation reports that 25% of adults treated for SCAs by EMS did not present symptoms before the onset. Since there is little-to-no warning before an SCA occurs, it is extremely important for organizations to be prepared with AEDs on-site and provide training for emergencies on a regular basis. Unfortunately, the same article states: “Bystander intervention in the U.S. also remains low. In 2017, laypersons initiated CPR in 39% of cases, used AEDs in just 6% of cases, and delivered a shock in ~2% of cases, based on CARES data.”
If an SCA occurs at your facility, having trained staff on-site to administer hands-only CPR could be the difference between saving a life and losing one. The American Heart Association reports nearly 45 percent of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest victims survived when bystander CPR was administered.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, however, CPR has to be administered carefully and with the correct techniques to limit cross-contamination. For more information, read our recent article Correct CPR Techniques During the COVID-19 Pandemic.
- Up to 60% survival one year after SCA with immediate defibrillation
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) reports that SCA studies where immediate defibrillation was administered to the victim have shown up to 60% survival one year after the event. On the other hand, there is only a 5–7% survival rate for victims who have to wait for EMS to arrive and administer care.
As time is of the essence, the above statistics highlight how critical having well-maintained AED equipment and trained staff can be for visitors or colleagues that suffer an SCA in the workplace.
- Two uplifting stories about victims that did not become workplace statistics
Our last point drives home the importance of having AEDs in known locations and staff to administer care while EMS are en-route. Read a cautionary yet uplifting survivor story by ZOLL Medical:
- A 55-year-old working on a school construction site suffered an SCA while waiting for a delivery. Luckily, the school’s facilities manager happened to be working nearby and responded right away. A former paramedic, he quickly recognized that the man was suffering sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) and was able to get the on-site AED quickly. Thankfully, the construction worker survived.
This story details how defibrillation from trained staff was the deciding factor in whether the victim survived or not. By putting precautionary measures in place and giving staff emergency training, lives are saved.
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