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IHF says new defibrillator bill will help save more lives

The Irish Heart Foundation (IHF) has welcomed unanimous Seanad support for a new Private Members Bill that will help to save more lives from sudden cardiac death by requiring premises with high public footfall to install and maintain automated external defibrillators (AEDs) for public use and provide training to persons on the premises. The new Public Health (Availability of Defibrillators) Bill 2013 is sponsored by Independent Senator Fergal Quinn.

According to the national charity fighting heart disease and stroke, about 5,000 people die from sudden cardiac death in Ireland annually and of these deaths, seven out of 10  happen outside of hospital and often in the presence of a bystander.

CPR training is a major priority of the Irish Heart Foundation which oversees the largest certified resuscitation training programme in Ireland, training 60,000 people each year by some 2,000 instructors at 190 affiliated training sites. Founded in 1995, the IHF resuscitation programme has helped to produce a survival rate of 6.5% when resuscitation is attempted. The latest available research from Ireland’s National Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest Register[1] showed that 133 lives were saved out of 2,033 patients for whom data was available, over a four year period to the end of 2011.

Chris Macey, Head of Advocacy, Irish Heart Foundation said: “We believe that legislating to provide more automated external defibrillators (AEDs) is a vital pre-requisite to increasing the life-saving role of bystander CPR. But this can only be maximised with proper regulation to ensure adequate ongoing training in CPR and how to use an AED is provided as well.

“We know from our work in communities all around Ireland that training is crucial. Where training is inadequate or non-existent – as is still very often the case – AEDs will not be used and therefore can play no life-saving role. By widening the availability of AEDs in tandem with certified training, we strongly believe based on our experience, that this will result in considerably more lives being saved in communities across the length and breadth of Ireland.”

International comparisons showed that higher survival rates can be achieved, particularly when the equipment and training are in place to ensure early recognition, early CPR and early defibrillation. For example, survival rates in Norway, Sweden and Denmark are 13%, 11% and 9%[2] respectively. Even higher survival rates have been recorded in the Netherlands where research over a three-year period to 2009[3] showed that neurologically intact survival was 49.6% for patients treated with an on-site AED, compared with 14.3% when no defibrillator was available.

The Irish Heart Foundation is the national charity fighting heart disease and stroke and relies on charitable donations for more than 90 per cent of its income.
For further information please contact the Irish Heart Foundation's communication's department.

Media queries to Caroline Cullen, Communications Manager, Irish Heart Foundation
Direct line: 01-6346908 Mob: 086-6049282

or Communications Officer, Ceri Teggin, DL: 01-6346917

[1] OHCAR National Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest Register, 4th annual report.
[2] EuReca (European Cardiac Arrest Registry) 2011
[3] Impact of onsite or dispatched automated external defibrillator use on survival after out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Berdowski J, Blom MT, Bardai A, Tan HL, Tijssen JG, Koster RW.Department of Cardiology, Academic Medical Center-University of Amsterdam, Netherlands.

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