Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month gives all of us another opportunity to honor those individuals and families most affected by SCA by advocating for the prevention, recognition, and response to this public health problem.
If nationally, 7 out of 10 or 70% of the sudden cardiac arrest happens at home are the rates similar in Johnson County? Please take a moment to look over the screenshot below from Johnson County's 2019 CARES document showing you the demographic or breakdown in our community. By the way, CARES stands for Cardiac Arrest Registry to Enhance Survival. Johnson County is one of many 911 systems in the country that share cardiac arrest data to improve patient survival and lower disability. The sharing of information is a good measure of a quality 911 system.
In 2019, 63.8% or 64% of cardiac arrest occurred at the home/residence in Johnson County. This percentage accounts for all ages and all causes of death, not just SCA. However, 64% is pretty close to 70%.
How can we make this rate lower or can we? The answer is yes, but through knowledge and advocating for prevention programs such as SCA screening tools through your doctor, pre-sports physicals that include electrocardiograms, or ECG and echocardiogram to look for those heart-related disorders that can cause SCA.
How can we improve our community's response to cardiac arrest in the home? Our communities need more education in general about SCA. Fortunately, there are numerous sources of information about how to recognize cardiac arrest, call 911, start chest compressions, and use an AED. This information just needs more exposure to the public similar to the types used to educate you about COVID19.
Use an AED? I don't have an AED in my house. I've only seen them at work or other places in the community.
That is a good observation. An AED is commonly placed in public locations when away from home. Are you surprised to learn that most cardiac arrests occur in the home? Do you own an AED?
Can I buy an AED? Yes. There are lots of reputable companies producing AED units with a range of pricing to fit your budget. HeartSafe does not recommend one brand over another brand. Just Google AED unit reviews on Youtube and you can learn more about the different devices on the market.
That is good information, but should I buy an AED? In short, Yes. Consider that you buy different types of insurance to replace something of value such as your car, home, and you (health insurance). You buy a smoke and carbon monoxide detector to alert you of dangers in your home. You buy a fire extinguisher to put out a sudden fire in your home. You buy a home security system to protect you and alert responders. You purchase these items because you do not know when an emergency might occur. It can give you peace of mind knowing you are safe. You should also consider purchasing an AED. We are all going to die, but sudden, unexpected death can have devastating effects on a family. Purchase an AED for your home or talk to your neighbors about each homeowner donating a small amount of money to purchase and install an outdoor AED cabinet each of you can quickly access if needed.
In summary, HeartSafe has shared a piece of information with you about cardiac arrest rates in our community. You have learned that most cardiac arrests occur in the home. You have the ability to call 911, recognize cardiac arrest, start chest compressions, and use an AED (if available) to help save a life. Improving survival rates from SCA in people's homes is not impossible or impractical it is just a change of how we understand, prevent, and respond to SCA.