Sudden Cardiac Death and Defibrillation: The Solution Around The Corner

REVIEW, Summer 2010, VOL I ISSUE II, ISSN 2042-4884
10.5083/ejcm.20424884.12 , Cite or Link Using DOI
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Alessandro Capucci, MD, FACC, FESC, Daniela Aschieri, MD & Valentina Pelizzoni

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), every year many more people die from cardiovascular diseases than from any other pathologies. It has been calculated that in 2005 about 17.5 millions of people died from cardiovascular diseases, which represents more than 30% of total recorded deaths in the world. Despite the decline of heart disease mortality registered in the past 30 years, cardiovascular diseases remain the “number one killer” in the industrialised world.

It is estimated that 40-50% of all cardiovascular deaths are out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). In Europe, that equates to around 400,000 adult deaths per year. Although the average victim is 65-years-old, approximately 10% of SCA events occur among people less than 40 years of age. In 85% of SCA cases, the victims are at home, the remaining 15% are struck in public places. The most worrying statistic is that the chance of surviving an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest is between 1% to 5% - a figure that has not improved since the 1950s.

But there is also some good news; when caused by an abnormal heart rhythm, like ventricular fibrillation (85% of initial SCA), SCA not necessary results in death if the heart can be shocked quickly with a defibrillator and a normal rhythm is restored. In fact, the implantable cardioverter defibrillators are 98% effective in protecting those at risk for SCA and when SCA occurs in a hospital intensive care unit, the survival rate is more than 95%...