NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Progress on Cardiac Arrest

August 7, 2001

A new device called Powerheart -- manufactured by Cardiac Science of Irvine, Calif. -- is being used by some hospitals to monitor the heart rhythms of heart patients and administer a shock within seconds of cardiac arrest. All this happens without human monitoring.

Some medical specialists say that a hospital may not be the best place for cardiac patients, because of the lack of monitoring.

  • An estimated 100,000 people who die of sudden cardiac arrest every year are in a hospital when it happens.
  • The chance of surviving sudden cardiac arrest while in a hospital is only 15 percent to 30 percent.
  • Statistically, sufferers are better off having a cardiac arrest at a Las Vegas casino -- where people are under constant surveillance by video cameras and staff have been trained to shock people with automatic defibrillators, resulting in survival rates as high as 70 percent.

Surveillance and monitoring of cardiac patients makes a substantial difference in whether a patient survives a cardiac arrest.

A Cleveland Clinic study showed that only 7 percent of patients whose arrest was not witnessed survived -- compared to 25 percent survival for witnessed arrests.

Source: Tara Parker-Pope, "New Hospital Monitor May Help Patients Survive Cardiac Arrest," Wall Street Journal, August 3, 2001.


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