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New Heart and Stoke Foundation Report Shows Increase in Cardiac Arrest

A new report by the Heart & Stroke foundation shows an alarming increase in cardiac arrests across Canada, highlighting that “fast action” is needed to save more lives.

Th foundation says cardiac arrest differs from a heart attack in that, in cardiac arrest, the heart suddenly stops pumping, rather than experiencing restricted blood flow. The report says while some progress has been made to address cardiac arrest, inequities persist, particularly in rural, remote and Indigenous communities.

The report shows approximately 60,000 such incidents occur outside of a hospital in Canada each year. According to stats, only one in 10 people survive a cardiac arrest outside of a hospital, due in part to the inability to get life-saving CPR in a timely manner.

CPR is usually performed on someone who suffers a cardiac arrest to keep blood pumping to the brain and other vital organs. An AED, or automated external defibrillator, can be used to deliver an electric shock to restart the heart. More AED kits are available in public areas like arenas and workplaces, but the Heart & Stroke Foundation says greater public awareness is needed to train people in CPR and the use of an AED.

New Heart and Stoke Foundation Report Shows Increase in Cardiac Arrest

(Example of an AED, courtesy the Heart and Stroke Foundation.)

One of the people to survive is 42-year old Colin Sullivan of St. John’s.

He’s a tax lawyer and father of four. During a recreational hockey game last October, Sullivan collapsed on the ice, shocking his teammates. Sullivan had experienced a full-on cardiac arrest. He credits his icemates and others for saving his life that day.

He says a couple of guys on the ice had done some CPR in their workplace and some guys in the dressing room, including a doctor involved in the game before Sullivan’s, emerged to help.

Dr. Andrew Travers, an emergency medicine physician and Provincial Medical Director for Emergency Health Services in Halifax, says he, cardiologists and paramedics can do many things but all that pales in comparison to what a bystander can do.

“Doing bystander CPR and using an AED is the strongest link in the chain of survival,” says Dr. Travers. “Every minute that goes by during cardiac arrest means the brain is dying and the heart is dying.”