Published on 19th April 2023
Out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, sometimes abbreviated to OHCA, is a severe and life-threatening medical emergency that requires immediate intervention to increase the chances of survival. In the UK, OHCA affects thousands of people yearly, and the public needs to know the facts and statistics surrounding this condition.
According to the English Ambulance Service report, there was 95,153 out-of-hospital cardiac arrest calls in the UK in 2021. Of these, only around 1 in 10 people survived. This low survival rate is due, in part, to the fact that many people did not receive the necessary medical attention in time. To increase the chances of survival, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillation must be provided as soon as possible.
One of the biggest risk factors for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest is age. The risk of OHCA increases with age, with the highest incidence occurring in people over 65. However, OHCA can occur in people of any age, and it is essential for everyone to be aware of the signs and symptoms of cardiac arrest and to know how to respond in an emergency.
While various factors can cause out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, common causes include heart disease, arrhythmias, congenital heart defects, electrical abnormalities in the heart, and trauma to the chest. Other causes of OHCA include heart failure, electrocution, drowning, and trauma.
If you suspect someone is experiencing cardiac arrest, it is crucial to call 999 immediately and start CPR. CPR involves pressing down on the person’s chest at a rate of around 100 to 120 compressions per minute, while applying pressure of 5-6cm (2-2.5 inches) at the same to keep blood flowing to the person’s vital organs until medical help arrives.
If a defibrillator is available, it should be used as soon as possible. A defibrillator is a device that delivers an electric shock to the heart in an attempt to restore a normal rhythm. Defibrillation is most effective when provided within the first few minutes of a cardiac arrest.
While the chances of survival for someone experiencing OHCA are low, several factors can increase the chances of survival, including:
People who experience out-of-hospital cardiac arrest may have a better chance of survival if they know the signs and symptoms of cardiac arrest and what to do if an emergency occurs. It is also vital for individuals in communities to have access to defibrillators and the confidence to use one should the need arise. By increasing awareness and access to life-saving resources, we can work towards improving survival rates for people experiencing OHCA in the UK.
The following summary by English Ambulance Services highlights the incidence of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in the UK. All data except for demographics is for August to December 2021 and was a collaboration between the British heart foundation, Resuscitation Council UK, NIHR Applied research collaboration west midlands, and the Association of ambulance chief executives.
According to the report, English Ambulance Services attended 95,153 out-of-hospital cardiac arrest calls from August to December alone in 2021, and 31,995 patients were treated by ambulance service personnel, indicating that sudden cardiac arrest continues to pose a public health threat.
The median age of patients was 68, with 57.6% above 65 years of age.
The report also showed that more men were affected by sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), with 66% treated by ambulance service personnel.
Regarding location, 83.2% suffered cardiac arrest at home, while 10.4% In public areas.
Since most SCA incidents happen at home, individuals need to learn how to perform CPR. In addition, it will be helpful if people know where the nearest defibrillator is in an emergency, as it can save lives. Furthermore, there’s a need for more defibrillators in public spaces, including shopping centres and other high-traffic areas.
Aetiology studies the cause or origin of a particular disease or condition. It involves identifying and analysing the factors that contribute to developing a disease or health problem, such as genetic predisposition, environmental exposure, lifestyle factors, or other underlying conditions. The goal of aetiological research is to gain a better understanding of how diseases develop, to improve prevention and treatment strategies.
Investigations were conducted to determine underlying causes and origins of sudden cardiac arrest incidents. It showed that:
This data further highlights the limited availability of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) incidents. SCA is a leading cause of death worldwide, and prompt access to an AED can significantly improve survival rates. However, the low availability of AEDs in SCA incidents (only 5.5% of cases) means that many individuals may not receive the life-saving treatment they need promptly. This disparity underscores the need for increased availability and accessibility of AEDs in public spaces, workplaces, and homes, as well as increased public awareness and education on the use of AEDs. The importance of AEDs in SCA cannot be overstated, and this is a call to action for stakeholders to take steps to increase AED access and save lives.
The Defibrillator Circuit: Where is your nearest unit?
Sadly, of the 31,995 patients treated, 51.2% were declared dead on the scene.
Obtaining an AED for your community
This infographic highlights why access to a defibrillator is critical now more than ever before. as defibrillators in public spaces can increase the chances of survival for people experiencing out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.
There are programs and initiatives to encourage the placement of defibrillators in public places and to train community members on how to use them. These community-wide defibrillation (CWD) programs can be extended to other communities to improve survival rates in OHCA in the UK.
At Martek Lifecare, we believe that improving the outcome of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests is possible with our lifesaving, easy-to-use defibrillators.
Please speak to a member of our team today.