Study Shows Bystander Use of AEDs Saves Lives

Study Shows Bystander Use of AEDs Saves Lives

Sudden Cardiac Arrest Survival Rates Surge When AEDs Are Used Before EMS Arrival

Pittsburgh, Penn. – April 15, 2010 – Victims of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) who are treated with automated external defibrillators (AEDs) by bystanders have a much greater chance of survival than their counterparts, according to landmark research by the Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium, just published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Researchers reviewed 13,769 cases of SCA occurring outside hospitals in multiple sites in the U.S. and Canada. Using multivariate analysis, researchers looked at potential confounding factors such as bystander CPR and time to EMS arrival. An AED was used before arrival of emergency medical services (EMS) personnel in 2.1 percent of cases. Survival in the overall group was 7 percent, compared to 24 percent when an AED was applied before EMS arrival, and 38 percent when an AED shock was delivered before EMS arrival. Use of an AED before EMS arrival increased the odds of survival by 80 percent.

“This is the first time a broad population was studied in this country,” said principal investigator, Dr. Myron Weisfeldt, Director, Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. “This study shows in a dramatic way that the use of AEDs by bystanders is a very potent indicator of survival.”

When study results were extrapolated to the entire population of the U.S. and Canada, researchers found that 470 people are saved each year due to bystander use of AEDs. “We are talking about nearly 500 people with families, said Weisfeldt. “I think the impact is significant.”

“This study is the landmark research we have been waiting for. It confirms the need for widespread deployment of AEDs, and the need for the public to become familiar with their use,” said Mary Newman, President of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation.

“This data also supports the efforts of organizations making efforts to advance public education,” said Weisfeldt. “We need to get the message out that, ‘You can do this. Sixth graders can do this. With AEDs, you have a real chance to save a life.’”

In addition, the ROC study analyzed the type of bystander using the AED. The best results occurred when AEDs were used by lay people, Weisfeldt said. The second-best results occurred when AEDs were used by healthcare personnel, and the worst results occurred when AEDs were used by police. The differences are likely related to the location of arrest. People who are out in public places generally are healthier than those in hospitals and nursing homes, where healthcare personnel were generally responding. And police were generally responding to victims at home, where victims are more likely to have had unwitnessed SCA, longer time to treatment and, therefore, lower chance of survival.

The study also found regional variation that likely reflected the adequacy of deployment and EMS response times. In some sites, bystanders used AEDs 7 percent of the time. “What if all sites could achieve this level?,” Weisfeldt mused, “How many more would survive?”

About Sudden Cardiac Arrest
Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is the sudden, unexpected loss of heart function, breathing and consciousness. It kills approximately 250,000 people each year in the U.S. alone, more than from colorectal cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, auto accidents, AIDS, firearms, and house fires combined.

About the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation
The Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) Foundation is a national non-profit  501(c)3 organization. Its mission is to serve as an information clearinghouse and social marketing force focused on raising public awareness of sudden cardiac arrest, and stimulating attitudinal and behavioral changes that will help save more lives. For more information, visit

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SOURCE: Weisfeldt ML, Sitlani CM, Ornato JP, et al., on behalf of the ROC Investigators. J Am Coll Cardiol 2010;55:1713-1720.


Carissa B. Caramanis O’Brien
carissa [dot] obrien [at] sca-aware [dot] org

Bystander_Use_of_AEDs.pdf167.33 KB

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The mission of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) Foundation is to prevent death and disability from sudden cardiac arrest. The vision of the SCA Foundation is to increase awareness about sudden cardiac arrest and influence attitudinal and behavioral changes that will reduce mortality and morbidity from SCA.

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