Heart association calls for defibrillators in public places

An electric shock to the heart can save 90 percent of cardiac arrest victims if administered in time.

human heart 88 (photo credit: )
human heart 88
(photo credit: )
The Israel Heart Society has called on the Ministerial Committee on Legislation to vote Monday in favor of a bill that would require the installation of automated external defibrillators in public places to save the lives of cardiac arrest victims. It said cardiovascular disease was the No. 1 killer in the Western world, including Israel, and the most common cause of death was cardiac arrest (clinical death) in which the pumping action of the heart stops abruptly. Every hour, one Israeli dies of cardiac arrest, making the annual figure about 8,000. Cardiac arrest, whether due to arrythmia from an electrical malfunction in the heart or clogged blood vessels that cause a heart attack, can affect anyone and comes without warning. About 95 percent of those afflicted will not survive if help is not received in time. If ventricle fibrillation of the heart occurs and the blood supply to the brain ceases, brain damage and death follow within a couple of minutes. However, if the victim receives an electric shock to the heart in time, it can restart the heartbeat and raise the success rate of first aid to 90%, the Israel Heart Society said. Thus there is a "window of opportunity" of around seven minutes after cardiac arrest during which the person can be saved. In most Western countries automatic cardiac defibrillators that can be operated by a layman have been installed in public places for use in case of an emergency. These small, mobile devices diagnose the type of arrythmia and give the necessary shock when applied to the chest. In the US, for example, all 50 states have adopted laws or regulations requiring the installation of defibrillators in public places. In some countries, these devices have raised the survival rates of cardiac arrest victims by as much as 75%. The society and the Health Ministry's National Council for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Diseases have adopted recommendations of professionals that automatic defibrillators be installed in public places, such as sports arenas, shopping malls, wedding halls and airports, said Prof. Doron Zeger, secretary-general of the society. A ministry committee produced these recommendations several years ago, but they were ignored. Since there is no Israeli legislation to require the installation of such devices - apparently for budgetary reasons - MKs Stas Meseznikov (Israel Beiteinu), Gilad Erdan (Likud) and Marina Solodkin (Kadima) have sponsored the bill that will come before the ministerial committee on Monday. The bill requires not only the purchase and installation of automatic defibrillators, but also educating and training key staffers on how to use them.