A Time to Act

Posted: July 10, 2016    |   John Ehinger

On July 11th and 12th, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) is hosting a two-day conference in Washington, DC to progress action on the eight recommendations contained in its report on the stunning prevalence of Sudden Cardiac Death.

As a quick refresher, the IOM previously reported 600,000 Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) events each year in the United States.  With the unnecessarily low prevailing survival rates, this equates to roughly ten 737 crashes each day and makes SCA the leading single cause of death in the United States.

The importance of upcoming meeting is further underscored by the recent work of Brittany Bogle, PhD and her colleagues.  Published in the Journal of the American Heart Association just before the July 4th holiday, the findings of Ms. Bogle’s team indicate that 1 out of 9 men and 1 out of every 30 women will die prematurely from SCA.

The core recommendations in the IOM report are oriented towards improving data availability, promoting hospital and EMS “best practice” performance, accelerating life-critical research, and fostering a “culture of action through public awareness and training”.

This last point is fundamental.  SCA is indiscriminate (it can strike anyone at any time) and needs immediate treatment (odds of survival drop roughly 10% each minute).  Thus, proper resourcing (AEDs and CPR training) at the site-level by private sector businesses, schools, and public agencies holds the greatest promise for eliminating the unnecessary deaths from SCA.

Numerous, prominent companies across all sectors – from Costco and IKEA to Disney and Fairmont Hotels –  have already embraced AEDs and CPR training for their employees.  In the public sector, local entities, such as airports and school districts, as well as national organizations, like Federal Occupational Health, have also rallied to protect those at their sites.  These collective efforts are paying dividends and saving lives across the country every day.  Fortunately, adoption is growing literally daily as other organizations – large and small – embrace similar preparations.  So, as the IOM session kicks off, here’s to a safer world for all of us.

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