Early Defibrillation for SCA – Sudden Cardiac Arrest

When sudden cardiac arrest strikes, time is critical. Although it’s vital to call 9-1-1 and provide CPR, it is not enough. Defibrillation is the single most effective treatment for SCA. That’s why early defibrillation programs, with deployment of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) and people trained in CPR/AED use are so important.



Consider these facts:

  • Chances of surviving SCA drop seven to 10 percent every minute without defibrillation. [1] The American Heart Association recommends defibrillation within three to five minutes of collapse, yet emergency medical services team take, on average, six to 12 minutes to arrive.
  • The vast majority (about 94 percent) of SCA victims die. [2]
  • There is hope for SCA victims, thanks to automated external defibrillators (AEDs).

Although not everyone can survive sudden cardiac arrest, studies show that early defibrillation programs can save many more lives. One study found that when bystanders were trained in CPR and AED use, survival rates were nearly double those when CPR alone was provided. Another study conducted among casinos with AED programs in place found that survival rates as high as 74 percent could be achieved when defibrillation was given within three minutes of collapse. [4]

[1] Cummins, R.O. 1989. From concept to standard-of-care? Review of the clinical experience with automated external defibrillators. Annals of Emergency Medicine 18: 1269-75.
[2] American Heart Association Web site, August 2006.
[3] Public-Access Defibrillation and Survival after Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest, The Public Access Defibrillation Trial Investigators, New England Journal of Medicine, August 12, 2004. Volume 351, Pages 637-46.
[4] Valenzuela T.D. et al. Outcomes of rapid defibrillation by security officers after cardiac arrest in casinos. New England Journal of Medicine, 2000; 343:1206-1209. 


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