A SHORTAGE of defibrillators – which shock the heart – and a lack of public awareness could be costing thousands of lives every year, research suggests.
Experts found that fewer than two per cent of heart attack victims in one county in England were treated with the device before an ambulance arrived – a figure described as “disappointingly low”.
The British Heart Foundation (BMF) estimates that 60,000 heart attacks occur out of hospital every year across the UK.
Research has shown that when somebody is having a heart attack leading to unconsciousness, every minute of delay in resuscitation and defibrillation reduces their chance of survival by 10 per cent.
A defibrillator is a machine that delivers an electric shock to the heart when someone is having a heart attack, is unconscious and not breathing. It is designed to be used by anyone, including members of the public.
Once the defibrillator box is opened, a recorded voice gives instructions on where to place pads on a person’s chest.
People then simply press a large button to start electrical shocks to the person’s heart. The defibrillator will not work unless the person is having a heart attack – meaning people cannot make the situation “worse” by using one.