Project Description


Out-Of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest Remains the Leading Cause of Death in Australia and Globally

Every year more than seven million people globally suffer from a cardiac arrest with no warning, and only 12% of those affected actually survive.

In Australia, over 33,000 people experience an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest every year. Less than 9% will survive. Between 75 – 80% of all cardiac arrests occur outside of a hospital setting. For every minute that passes after a person has a cardiac arrest, the chance of survival decreases by 10% each minute.

Sudden cardiac arrest does not discriminate and can strike anyone, at anytime, any age and any fitness level.

In cardiac arrest the heart is no longer pumping, blood flow stops, the person loses consciousness and will be not breathing normally. Death is imminent unless within a short period of time blood flow is restored.

For a short period of time the non-pumping heart may have an abnormal rhythm (VF) or (VT) which may be shocked by defibrillation back to a normal pumping rhythm. CPR alone will not save a person in VF/VT, so a defibrillator should be applied to all patients as soon as available so that a shock can be delivered if required.

The time to defibrillation is a key factor that influencers survival. For every minute defibrillation is delayed, there is approximately 10% reduction in survival if the patient is in cardiac arrest due to VF or VT.

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Most cases of out of hospital cardiac arrest are due to abnormality of the hearts electrical rhythm called ventricular fibrillation (VF) or ventricular tachycardia (VT). The heart stops beating properly, it ceases to act as an effective pump and the circulation of blood flow stops. Death is inevitable unless the condition is recognised promptly and CPR and defibrillation is carried out.

Defibrillation is the use of a controlled electric shock that stops the chaotic rhythm of VF/VT and allows the normal, organized, electrical rhythm of the heart to return.

The major factor limiting the number of people who survive out of hospital sudden cardiac arrest is the ability to provide defibrillation within a critical time. Condition of defibrillation are optimal for only a few minutes after the onset of VF/VT, although this period can be extended if a bystander provide effective CPR. CPR alone cannot restore a normal heart rhythm, but it can “buy time” until a defibrillator is available and used.

The term “heart attack” is often confused and referred to cardiac arrest, but this is incorrect. A heart attack occurs when an artery supplying the heart itself with blood becomes blocked. This usually creates pain in the chest and leads to damage to the muscle of the heart. A heart attack may cause cardiac arrest, but this is by no means inevitable.

There are many causes of cardiac arrest, however as soon as a person has collapsed, is unresponsive and stops breathing normally, they require immediate resuscitation.

Every Second Counts

Unexplained Cardiac Death

Statistics have revealed that figures are much higher in people aged under 50 that die from sudden cardiac arrest.

Victorian data shows about 750 people aged under 50 have suffered a sudden cardiac arrest over a twelve-month period (April 2019 – April 2020) – with 600 of those dying, putting it on par with suicide as the biggest killer of young Victorians. That’s more than 12 Victorians a week who have died before their 50th birthday from unexplained cardiac death.