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University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center
Publish Date: 03/17/00
Media Contact: AHC Public Relations, (513) 558-4553
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Study to Test Public Access to Defibrillation Devices

Cincinnati--Michael Sayre, MD, assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine, and medical director of the Cincinnati Fire Division, is the local principal investigator of a new National Institutes of Health (NIH) study of using an automated external defibrillator (AED) to resuscitate a person in a cardiac arrest in public access areas such as factories, office buildings, hotels, and shopping malls. The study asks whether community volunteers can be as effectively trained as emergency medical personnel in the use of AEDs, devices that shock a stopped heart back into beating.

To answer this question, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) in collaboration with the American Heart Association, has funded a large multicenter study to test the lifesaving potential and cost effectiveness of public access defibrillation (PAD). PAD is considered a promising means of improving treatment for victims of sudden cardiac arrest who collapse in public places. Over one-fourth of the 300,000 annual deaths from sudden cardiac arrest take place outside of the home--in public places. AEDs are known to work effectively to help victims of cardiac arrest when the devices are used by highly trained emergency medical services personnel. "We want to know if placing these devices where trained volunteers can access them will prevent additional deaths, and whether such a program is feasible," said NHLBI Director Claude Lefant, MD.

The two-and-a-half-year study will be conducted in 20 to 25 centers throughout the United States and Canada. Each study center will seek 40 community units in their local region. Volunteers in participating communities will be trained to recognize cardiac arrest, to access the 911 system, and to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Half of the community units will have AEDs placed in conspicuous locations and the volunteers in those locations will be trained to use the devices. The AEDs will be placed in areas such as residential apartments, shopping centers, senior centers, office buildings, and sports venues.

"Heart disease is still the number one killer of Americans, but more widespread use of the automated external defibrillator will increase the chance of surviving sudden cardiac arrest," says Sayre. The trial currently is looking for interested sites. The defibrillators will be distributed in the summer. "Individuals who want to learn more or who have questions should call us," says Michael Ottaway, research coordinator of the study. The PAD trial office an be reached at (513) 558-1191.

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