Expert: Public defibrillators save lives, healthcare costs

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Portable defibrillators can increase survival rates from sudden cardiac death simply by being available in a public setting, according to Michael Sayre, MD, a national expert on public placement of automated external defibrillators (AED) at Ohio State University Medical Center.

“Public AEDs give a life-saving shock much faster than EMS and double the chance of survival,” said Sayre, an emergency medicine physician at Ohio State Medical Center in Columbus.

More than 90 percent of victims of sudden cardiac arrest die before receiving emergency medical assistance or reaching a hospital. Today, public AEDs are used on less than 2 percent of victims. According to Sayre, within three minutes of collapse, a bystander should ideally be able to access a nearby AED and administer the shock.

Sayre is part of a national campaign committed to increasing public presence of AEDs and training 20 million Americans each year how to give hands-only CPR and use and AED. He added that AEDs cost approximately $1,500.

“Too many public places still do not have AEDs and this shortage is costing thousands of lives,” he said.

Sudden cardiac arrest kills approximately 325,000 Americans each year and is responsible for an estimated 1,000 deaths daily, according to the American Heart Association.

“If only 10 percent more are saved because public AEDs are widely available and used more than 30,000 mothers, husbands, fathers and wives will return to their families every single year,” said Sayre.