London's cardiac arrest survival rate highest in country

Erica Payet and Paramedic Malcolm Ritchie22 August 2012

Fabrice Muamba is one of 362 people who survived an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in London last year – making it the best survival rate in the country.

According to figures released today, almost a third of London Ambulance Service patients (32 per cent*) whose heart stopped beating were resuscitated and discharged from hospital in 2011/12, compared to just five per cent 10 years ago.

The figure – which is also among the highest comparable figures published in Europe – has been steadily increasing over the last decade and is primarily due to staff reaching patients quickly and delivering more effective clinical care.

London Ambulance Service staff were among those involved in the treatment of Fabrice Muamba, after he suffered a cardiac arrest during a match at White Hart Lane in March.

Figures from the Service’s cardiac arrest annual report 2011/12 also show that more members of the public than ever before are attempting cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) while ambulance staff are on the way.

Immediately performing CPR – chest compressions and rescue breaths – when someone suffers a cardiac arrest effectively doubles a patient’s chance of survival.

Erica Payet, 25 (pictured doing chest compressions), survived a cardiac arrest in March when bystanders in Bermondsey started CPR before ambulance staff arrived.

Working in partnership with the British Heart Foundation, London Ambulance Service paramedics enabled over 14,000 people in the capital to learn lifesaving skills last year, including Mayor Boris Johnson and Dame Helen Mirren.

Medical Director Fionna Moore said: “These figures are excellent news for Londoners as they show a marked increase in the number of patients who have left hospital after an event which previously was regarded as fatal, which is excellent news for Londoners.

“London’s survival rate is the highest in the country and among the highest comparable figures published in Europe.”

Only Stavanger in Norway has published better outcomes (52 per cent) in the continent.

Fionna added: “The steady rise in the cardiac arrest survival rate in London over the last decade is mainly due to our staff identifying and reaching these patients quickly, and delivering effective clinical care on the scene before taking them to the best hospital for further treatment.

 “This year we’ve seen more people than ever attempting CPR, which means that more patients are being given the best chance of survival before ambulance staff arrive.

“Our staff’s work in the community last year to enable over 14,000 people to learn lifesaving skills as well as the British Heart Foundation’s TV advert starring Vinnie Jones , can only encourage more people to do CPR while an ambulance is on the way.”

Catherine Kelly, Director of Prevention and Care at the British Heart Foundation said: “This is great news for Londoners. Not only are ambulance staff reaching people faster and providing even better treatment, but ordinary people are saving lives too.

“Knowing how to save a life using Hands-only CPR is one of the most important skills you can learn and our Vinnie advert aimed to show people just how simple it can be.”

- Ends -

Notes to editors:

*Utstein cardiac arrest survival rate
The Utstein cardiac arrest survival rate in London in 2011/12 is 31.7 per cent (171 survivors out of 540 cardiac arrest patients), up from 22.8 per cent the previous year. This is the highest level it has ever been in London.

Utstein is an internationally-recognised method of calculating out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survival rates and focuses on a subgroup of patients who have the best chance of a successful resuscitation. The calculation takes into account the number of patients discharged alive from hospital who had resuscitation attempted following a cardiac arrest of presumed cardiac aetiology, and who also had their arrest witnessed by a bystander and an initial cardiac rhythm of ventricular fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia.

Overall cardiac arrest survival rate
362 out of 3,324 cardiac arrest patients who ambulance staff attempted to resuscitate survived to be discharged from hospital (10.9 cent). In 2010/11, 259 out of 3,246 cardiac arrest patients treated by ambulance staff survived (eight per cent).

Department of Health Clinical Quality Indicators
From April 2011, all ambulance services in England have been measuring and reporting 11 clinical quality indicators, allowing data to be compared between services across the country.

This means that for the first time ambulance services’ cardiac arrest survival rate can be compared nationally.

2011/12 Utstein cardiac arrest survival rates by ambulance service are available via the Ambulance Clinical Quality Indicators.

Please note: Our own data differs to the Ambulance Clinical Quality Indicators because of submission dates for the reporting period.

Additional figures from London Ambulance Service Cardiac Arrest Annual Report 2011/12 – Authors: Lynne Watson, Gurkamal Virdi and Rachael Fothergill

Around two thirds of cardiac arrests in London occurred in the home (67.1 per cent)

  • Just over a fifth of cardiac arrests occurred in public (21.9 per cent)
  • Of those arrests which happened in public:
    • 51 took place in a tube, rail or bus station
    • 48 took place in a leisure centre or sports facility
    • 43 took place in a hospital or other healthcare centre
    • 42 took place in a shop
    • 20 took place in an airport
    • 18 took place in a hostel or hotel
    • 14 took place in a pub or club
    • 12 took place in parkland or woodland
    • 10 took place in a place of worship
    • 7 took place in a school or college
  • Bystanders attempted basic life support before ambulance staff arrived in 40.5 per cent of cardiac arrests. This was up from 36.7 per cent the previous year
  • The average age of a cardiac arrest patient was 68
  • The majority of patients (64 per cent) were male
  • Female patients were on average seven years older than males (72 compared with 65)
  • Cardiac arrests happened most commonly between 8am and 12pm (22.6 per cent)
  • Cardiac arrests occurred most frequently on a Monday (15.2 per cent)
  • The highest number in a single month occurred in December (9.9 per cent)

The British Heart Foundation funds five posts within London Ambulance Service. Find out more about Hands-only CPR at www.bhf.org.uk/handsonly 

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