When Australians experience a heart attack outside of a hospital, they are now more likely to die than just five years ago, according to a new study from the Australian Resuscitation Council of New South Wales.
The group found that when NSW residents have a heart attack outside of hospital, the survival rate is only 10 per cent – 17 per cent lower than survival rates noted between 2005 and 2010. This occurred even as the overall number of heart attacks declined.
Specifically, the report noted that 12.3 per cent of people who had out-of-hospital heart attacks in 2005 were alive 90 days later. By 2010, the number of people to live this long after cardiac arrest dropped to 10.2 per cent.
The final conclusion of the report was particularly shocking, as the researchers asserted that NSW may not have the right standard procedures in place to keep heart attack victims alive.
"The study concluded that recent improvements to CPR guidelines have not resulted in better survival rates from cardiac arrest: Patients suffering out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in NSW are now less likely to survive," the report stated.
The study's implications
Since it was published, medical professionals have come forward to defend themselves, saying that physicians are well aware of how to save patients, but the proper measures aren't being implemented.
Paul Middleton, chairman of the NSW branch of ARC, wrote a piece for the Sydney Morning Herald outlining how NSW can stop "needless cardiac arrest deaths".
Mr Middleton's recommendations included creating a statewide, free CPR training program that would give the public more confidence to conduct resuscitation procedures. He also stated there should be more defibrillators found throughout the public, considering defibrillators save 75 per cent of victims if administered quickly.
His third point was that the government should set up a cardiac arrest registry that would keep better tabs on when and where heart attacks occur, and why they lead to fatalities.
Mr Middleton stated that it was crucial to put more focus on saving heart attack victims. Of the 3,800 that suffer cardiac arrest every year in NSW, 90 per cent don't live through it. Moreover, heart attacks cause 10 times more fatalities than car accidents, suggesting it's time to do something about this problem.