World Heart Day: Saving lives through education and action

September 29 is World Heart Day, a time to focus attention on what can be done to promote heart health and prevent cardiac disease. Heart disease and stroke are the world’s leading cause of death, claiming 17.1 million lives each year.

Across the globe people are holding events, conducting health screenings, and attending conferences on topics like healthy diet and exercise, cardiovascular research, cardiac rehabilitation, and heart-safe communities.

Here at Cardiac Science we’re thinking about the people we work with, all over the world, who are making their communities heart safe by installing automated external defibrillators (AEDs). Communities that create a chain of survival (awareness of sudden cardiac arrest, available AEDs, CPR- and AED-trained citizens, and well-prepared emergency services and hospitals) can increase survival rates for witnessed sudden cardiac arrest — usually about 5 percent — to as high as 50 percent.

Here are just a few of the innovative AED programs launched in recent months:

new-AED-at-schoolEscola Básica Integrada da Boa Água AED program, in Sesimbra (Setubal), Portugal. In December, 2010, this became the first school in Portugal to install an AED. The school, which has some 800 students, is equipped with a Cardiac Science Powerheart AED G3 and 12 school staff members have been trained by Med First and certified in AED use.

The University of Otago AED program in New Zealand. Twenty-five new AEDs were installed on campus and staff were encouraged to attend one-hour training courses offered by the New Zealand Red Cross.

The municipal PAD program in Girona, Spain.Girona launched the largest public access defibrillation (PAD) program in Spain with a purchase of 650 AEDs and more than 250 “intelligent” AED cabinets.

An innovative car-based AED program in the Czech Republic. In Prague, Powerheart AED G3s are deployed in Smart cars that can travel quickly throughout the city, even on the narrow streets of Prague’s Old Town.

AED training in Columbia, S.A. Proyecto Latir (“Project Heartbeat”) offers free CPR/AED training courses for private companies, hospitals, and government agencies.

A $10 million PAD program in Ontario, Canada. Government funds were allocated to put AEDs in public settings including hockey arenas, recreation centres, and high-activity schools in the province.


A map of the campaign to put AEDs at football clubs throughout Victoria.

Heart-safe sports fields throughout Victoria, Australia. Football clubs have taken the lead by raising more than $150,000 in private funding to equip sports facilities with AEDs.

Project Heartsafe, developed by Great Plains Ag Credit to increase heart safety in Texas. This group recently provided more than 70 Powerheart AED G3s to first responders and key public safety agencies in the Texas Panhandle.

Awareness of the effectiveness of a community-based approach to heart safety is spreading across the globe. World Heart Day is an ideal time to find out more about what you, your school, your workplace, and your community can do to prevent needless deaths from sudden cardiac arrest.

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