Study Finds Adults Represent 2/3 of SCA Cases in Schools

A recent five-year study by Michigan researchers has revealed surprising information on the nature of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) events in schools: Victims tend to be adults and rarely occur at sporting events despite most SCAs occurring after 5 p.m.

Case-in-point: Our recent blog entry [Parents and Student Save Grandfather’s Life During a High School Concert] that detailed how one student used an automated external defibrillator (AED) to rescue a grandparent during a school concert.

School-PlaygroundA new five-year study finds that only two out of 47 cardiac arrests at K-12 schools occurred during sports events. As many as 1/3 of Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) victims occurred after 5 pm and mostly in adults. Image courtesy of artur84 /

“Schools are community-gathering places, and two-thirds of our cases were adults,” said Dr. Robert Swor, an emergency physician at Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine in Royal Oak.

About 300,000 Americans suffer SCA every year and fewer than eight in 100 leave the hospital alive. AEDs, which are placed in schools and many other public areas, may save nearly 500 lives every year, according to a study by Weisfeldt and colleagues from 2010.

Several states require schools to have AEDs on site to treat cardiac arrests. The briefcase-sized devices let non-experts check a person’s heart rhythm via patches glued to the chest. If the heart is beating too fast, known as ventricular tachycardia to pump out enough blood, or just quivering chaotically in so-called ventricular fibrillation, the AED can jolt it back to its normal rhythm.

The study also finds that more attention to emergency response capabilities and preparedness in schools is needed.

Click here to read more about this study.