Many people associate sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) with an older demographic. While it is true that SCA is the primary cause of death in adults, it is a rare occurrence in young people accounting for only 6,000 to 8,000 deaths a year. However, news stories of young athletes who collapse in the middle of a field of play dominate news stories with enough regularity to give teachers, coaches and principals pause.
What Causes SCA in Young People?
In most cases, sudden cardiac arrest in young people is caused by a heart abnormality or birth defect. Genetic disorders may contribute to SCA in children, but many times a direct cause of the cardiac event could not be found. Either something causes the heart to degenerate into an abnormal heart rhythm, or an underlying cause is brought to light that causes ventricular fibrillation resulting in cardiac arrest. Although these instances are rare, the likelihood of survival is directly related to how quickly a person receives the life-saving intervention.
The AED Difference
When used in conjunction with CPR, an automated external defibrillator (AED) can make the difference between survival and death in sudden cardiac arrest. On average, a person’s chance of surviving SCA diminish by ten percent for every minute life-saving resuscitation efforts are delayed. With an average response time of seven to ten minutes, emergency medical professionals often arrive too late to make a difference in the survival of a victim of SCA. However, if CPR is started immediately following a young person’s collapse and an AED administers an electrical shock in those first few crucial minutes, the chance of survival increases from ten percent to 40 percent.
Protecting Children is Key
Together, the American Heart Association and Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation recommend that every place where the public gathers are equipped with an AED. Even though SCA in young people is rare, protecting children against the threat of sudden death often drives the decision to acquire an AED for a school. Whether it is the medically fragile population or student athletes, no student is safe from sudden, deadly medical events. The potential for death at school should be enough reason for every district to implement an AED/CPR program.
Addressing District Reluctance
The importance of having an AED in every school cannot be understated, yet many districts express reluctance to purchase a device for every hallway. State requirements vary widely with only 17 of 50 states with legislation in place for AED’s in schools. Researchers estimate that there are more than 35 million students without AED coverage in the US. Citing cost as a major obstacle to obtaining AED’s, the estimated cost of two AED’s and training for each school is relatively small when spread across the number of students they serve. Fully certified, calibrated, refurbished AED’s have made the initial expense even more attainable for smaller districts or schools whose states do not have legislation governing the presence of AED’s in schools.
For more information on how Foremost Medical Equipment can equip your school with a high-quality AED, contact us.