Placing automated external defibrillators in public places can improve the overall likelihood someone will survive a heart attack.
Researchers randomly placed AEDs -- devices capable of shocking the heart back to normal during a heart attack -- in nearly 1,000 shopping malls, apartment complexes, and other public places in 24 communities in North America. More than 19,000 volunteers in these communities were then trained in either CPR alone or CPR plus the use of an AED. Researchers kept track of the number and characteristics of heart attack victims who were helped by volunteers in the two groups.
Volunteers trained in CPR alone helped 107 patients. Fifteen survived to the point they were discharged from the hospital. Volunteers trained in both CPR and the use of an AED helped 128 patients. Thirty survived until hospital discharge. Analysis of the results showed heart attack victims in the two groups were about the same in terms of age and sex, and those who survived were similar in terms of functional status.
Researchers say their results show that use of AEDs by trained volunteers is safe and effective when initiated in public locations where there is at least a moderate likelihood of a witnessed out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.