New study shows remarkably high survival rates of sudden cardiac arrest at traditional and alternative exercise facilities

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New research conducted in Seattle and King County, Washington, USA found that sudden cardiac arrest is associated with a high rate of survival at both traditional and alternative exercise facilities. The study included data from 960 sudden cardiac arrest cases revealing the most common activities performed at time of sudden cardiac arrest and overall outcomes in individuals. Furthermore, the study also showed that this heart anomaly occurred frequently at alternative exercise facilities, including dance studios and bowling alleys. The study was presented at Heart Rhythm 2011, the Heart Rhythm Society’s 32nd Annual Scientific Sessions.

Researchers examined outcomes of 960 cases of sudden cardiac arrest occurring at indoor public locations from 1996 through 2008, including traditional and alternative exercise facilities. As compared with traditional exercise facilities, alternative exercise facilities included locations such as dance studios, bowling alleys, and other public indoor sites. Of the 150 cases of sudden cardiac arrest occurring at traditional and alternative exercise facilities, the most common activities performed at the time of sudden cardiac arrest were basketball (16%), dancing (8.7%), “working out” (8.7%), treadmill use (8%), tennis (4.7%), bowling (4%) and swimming (4%).

Survival at exercise facilities, including both traditional and alternative sites, was remarkably high, and was significantly better than survival from sudden cardiac arrest at non-exercise facilities. Survival at exercise facilities was 50%, compared with 36% observed for sudden cardiac arrest occurring in non-exercise public indoor locations.

“On examining these cases of sudden cardiac arrest, we were impressed with the remarkably high survival rates that were seen at both types of exercise facilities,” said Richard L Page, immediate past president of the Heart Rhythm Society and chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. “Furthermore, we were surprised by the frequency of sudden cardiac arrest at alternative exercise facilities, such as dance studios and bowling alleys.”

According to the study findings, bystanders and automated external defibrillator placement were related to improving overall sudden cardiac arrest survival rates. Results showed that witnesses of sudden cardiac arrest at exercise facilities responded with cardiopulmonary resuscitation 77% of the time and with an automated external defibrillator 16%. In comparison, witnesses at non-exercise facilities performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation 55% of the time and used an automated external defibrillator seven per cent.

“These results provide important public health implications for automated external defibrillator placement at exercise facilities across the country,” said Page. “Increasing the presence of automated external defibrillators at all exercise sites, traditional and alternative, will create opportunities to save more lives.”