Recalls Aside, AEDs Still Work Their Magic

Recent saves at a Hong Kong hotel and at a casino in Pennsylvania back up a study indicating use of AEDs before medical help arrives is associated with improved survival.

Recalls of automated external defibrillators for battery/power issues or failure to operate when needed occur fairly frequently, including a May 2010 recall involving Defibtech battery packs. Physio-Control's LIFEPAK 15 -- not an AED, but an advanced monitor/defibrillator --was involved in a March 2010 recall. But AEDs are the subject of at least as much positive news, as well, with sudden cardiac arrest victims' lives saved recently at a Hong Kong hotel and at a casino in Pennsylvania, along with a study indicating use of AED before medical help arrives is associated with improved survival.

The study, performed by physicians and colleagues at Johns Hopkins University, the University of Washington, the Mayo Clinic, and several other universities and organizations in the United States and Canada, strongly supports expansion of public access defibrillation programs because it found bystander AED use significantly raises survival rates. The researchers evaluated 13,769 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests, 4,403 of which involved CPR but no AED use by a bystander and 289 involved an AED before emergency medical personnel arrived to help. Survival to hospital discharge was 9 percent for CPR used without an AED but 24 percent for patients where an AED was used, according to the authors. Overall survival for the 13,769 cardiac arrests was 7 percent. The paper was published in the April 2010 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Extrapolating the results to the population of the United States and Canada, the authors said 474 lives might be saved annually through AED application by bystanders in the two countries.

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