Significant increase in cardiac arrest survival rate for Londoners

Thursday, 04 February, 2010

The Capital's cardiac arrest survival rate has gone up more than six times in a decade*. New figures from the London Ambulance Service revealed last month that
Londoners whose hearts stop beating in public are over six times more likely to survive than ten years ago. Fewer than one in six people (15.2 per cent*) who suffered an out-of-hospital bystander-witnessed cardiac arrest were discharged from hospital alive last year, compared to 2.5 per cent in 1998/99.

The news comes from the London Ambulance Service 2008/09 Cardiac Arrest Annual Report and the increased survival rate reflects a wide range of developments in the care and treatment of cardiac patients in the capital.

Clinical Practice Manager Mark Whitbread said: "When someone's heart stops beating every second is vital, and to have seen such tremendous improvements in these survival rates is a great achievement.

"Many factors have contributed to the improved cardiac arrest survival rate, which include our staff reaching patients in a life-threatening condition faster than ever before and giving a high quality of care on scene."

Last year the Service community resuscitation team trained over 10,000 members of the public in basic life support, which includes delivering cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), or chest compressions and rescue breaths, a lifesaving technique that doubles a cardiac arrest patient's survival if performed while emergency help is on the way.

With the help of Big Lottery funding and the British Heart Foundation, the Service is now responsible for almost 500 automated external defibrillators.

Last year the Service trained over 1,200 staff in public places to use a defibrillator.

*The cardiac arrest survival figure is calculated using the internationally recognised Utstein method.

The calculation takes into account the number of patients discharged alive from hospital that had resuscitation attempted following a cardiac arrest of presumed cardiac aetiology, and who also had their arrest witnessed by a bystander and an initial cardiac rhythm of ventricular fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia.

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