The Capital’s cardiac arrest survival rates double

The cardiac arrest survival rate in London has more than doubled in the last six years*, according to the latest London Ambulance Service figures published in the 2005/06 Cardiac Arrest Annual Report.

Over one in 10 Londoners (10.9 per cent), who suffered a bystander witnessed out-of-hospital cardiac arrest were discharged alive from hospital last year.*

Head of Clinical Audit & Research Dr Rachael Donohoe, one of the authors of the report said: “The London Ambulance Service has made great strides in its cardiac care and it’s great to see the hard work of our staff really is saving more lives.

“A number of factors have contributed to the improved survival rate, one of these being effective bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), which is known to double a person’s chance of survival.

“During 2005/06 the London Ambulance Service Community Resuscitation Training team taught 8,500 people this simple life-saving technique, and this has improved the public’s ability to help people in a cardiac emergency whilst our crews are on the way.”

With the help of Big Lottery funding distributed through the British Heart Foundation, the Service has placed defibrillators— machines that can deliver a shock to re-start a patient’s heart—in over 410 public places around the capital, and trained over 2,500 people across London to use them.

*The cardiac arrest survival figure is calculated using the Utstein method, which 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.

Cardiac arrest patient case study

Fifty-five-year-old Thomas Doyle from Waterloo, who had no history of heart problems, was walking through his local market one afternoon last July when he went into cardiac arrest.

Within six minutes Motorcycle Response Paramedic Alan Treacy was on the scene and giving a shock to Mr Doyle’s heart with a defibrillator. Ambulance crew Paramedic Sean Clark and Emergency Medical Technician Claire Roberts arrived on the scene two minutes later, a further two shocks were given and the patient’s heartbeat returned. He was taken to St Thomas’ Hospital where he made a full recovery.

Mr Doyle said: “All I remember is that my right leg went numb and then I was out like a light. Next thing I knew I was coming to in hospital. I can’t thank the crew enough for saving my life.”

Additional figures from London Ambulance Service Cardiac Arrest Annual Report 2005/06 – Authors Dr Rachael Donohoe and Karen Haefeli

  • Around three quarters of cardiac arrests in London occurred in the home.
  • Of those that occurred in public, over a third took place in the street.
  • Nearly half of all cardiac arrests were witnessed by bystanders.
  • However, bystanders only gave cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in a third of all cardiac arrests.
  • The average age of a cardiac arrest patient was 68 years.
  • The majority of patients were male – 66 per cent.
  • Female patients were on average eight years older than males (73 years compared with 65 years).
  • Emergency calls for cardiac arrest were highest between the hours of 8am and 12 noon.
  • Cardiac arrests occurred most frequently on a Friday.
  • 10 per cent of cardiac arrests occurred during November.

– Ends –

Notes to editors

  • A cardiac arrest occurs when a person’s heart stops. Someone in cardiac arrest will lose consciousness, will not be breathing and will have no signs of circulation.
  • London’s cardiac arrest survival figure using the Utstein method has increased from 4.2 per cent in 1998/99 to 10.9 per cent in 2005/06.
  • In 2005/06 the London Ambulance Service received over 82,000 calls from patients reporting potential cardiac or chest pain related problems.
  • The London Ambulance Service provides free CPR training to the public and to businesses at a cost. People who are interested in learning CPR and how to save a life in a medical emergency should call 020 7463 3120 or email [email protected].

For further information about London Ambulance Service or this news release please contact the communications department on 020 7921 5113.