The leading cause of death for adults within the UK is Sudden Cardiac Arrest. Most arrests occur in people with underlying Heart and Circulatory Disease. The title Heart Disease covers conditions such as coronary heart disease, heart attack and heart failure. Although the typical victim of cardiac arrest is a man aged over 50 and a woman aged over 65, this is not always the case and can happen to anyone at any-time.

In general around one third of people who have a heart attack die as a result. These deaths often occur before a person reaches the hospital. In order to improve these statistics within Hawick the Trust has identified that the Town would benefit from a number of defibrillators being placed in specific areas.

A defibrillator, also known as an automated external defibrillator (AED), is a life-saving piece of equipment that delivers an electric shock to the heart. The electric shock may restore a normal rhythm to a heart that’s stopped beating. The British Heart Foundation (BHF) has discovered through their research that a controlled shock within five minutes of collapse provides the best possible chance of survival. For every minute past this the chances of survival decrease by 14%.

Defibrillators that are in use today are small, lightweight, portable and have a long battery life, and they are fully automated. It’s very easy to use an AED. The rescuer turns the machine on which then gives ‘voice prompts’, telling the rescuer what to do. The rescuer will be asked to puts the pads in position on the person’s chest. These pads detect electrical activity in the heart and will be able to tell if a shock is needed.

Although anyone can use an AED, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) have pushed the fact that it is preferable that people receive the training initially.

As a Trust we have discovered that it would also be better if more people were also trained in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), which buys time before defibrillation. CPR provides a trickle of oxygenated blood to the brain and heart and keeps these organs alive until defibrillation can shock the heart into a normal rhythm.

Statistics sourced from an article created by Michael Harrison-Blunt, University of Salford, Manchester, School of Health Sport and Rehabilitation Sciences, 2009 show that: –

To give the best chance of survival four things need to be in place;

  1. Early Access – Cardiac arrest needs to be identified as soon as possible.
  2. Early CPR – Once cardiac arrest is confirmed CPR must be started.
  3. Early Defibrillation – CPR keeps the person in a shockable rhythm the earlier a patient can be given defibrillation the better the chances of survival.
  4. Early Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) – The person also requires a doctor or paramedic to ensure airway management and intravenous drugs are given to further improve the chance of survival.

To view Defibrillator locations click here.