HEALTH BEAT 8-1-2000

Meetings & Conventions: Short Cuts August 2000 Current Issue
August 2000
Short Cuts:

Those who suffer heart attacks in flight had better hope they’re traveling with one of the eight U.S. airlines that equips its planes with automatic external defibrillators (AEDs).

Eight airlines now carry the lifesaving devices: Alaska, American, Continental, Delta, Northwest, Southwest, United and US Airways. But the Federal Aviation Administration has proposed that all U.S. airlines be required to have AEDs onboard and train flight attendants in their use. A ruling is expected by year-end.

Sudden cardiac arrest kills 350,000 people every year. Of those, 70 percent suffer from ventricular fibrillation (VF), in which the heart suddenly starts beating very rapidly. Shocking the heart back into a regular rhythm with an AED is the only hope in cases of VF. This must occur within a few minutes, or the sufferer will likely die.

Emergency medical help is often more than 10 minutes away arriving too late to save lives. In fact, as few as five percent of those who experience sudden cardiac arrest outside of the hospital survive, according to national estimates. Wide public availability of AEDs could prevent up to 50,000 deaths each year, according to the American Heart Association.


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