Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Why is Early Defibrillation Important

In many cases, SCA can be reversed with early defibrillation -- the use of a defibrillator to shock the heart back into normal rhythm by means of an electric current. To be most effective, defibrillation must occur as soon as possible after the onset of SCA.

  • According to the AHA, each minute of delay in delivering a defibrillation shock to a cardiac arrest victim reduces the chances of survival by 10%.
  • The average response time nationally for emergency medical personnel equipped with defibrillators is 10 minutes, making access to defibrillators on-site or in first-responder vehicles (police cars, fire trucks, etc.) extremely important.
  • Even in the hospital setting, traditional resuscitation procedures many times result in significant delays before an SCA victim receives defibrillation therapy; consequently, survival averages from in-hospital sudden cardiac arrests are only 15%.
  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) works to temporarily circulate blood to vital organs; however, CPR cannot restore a patient's heart to a healthy rhythm. The AHA states that the definitive survival treatment for an SCA victim is a defibrillation shock.
  • Published studies have proven that early defibrillation, within the first few minutes of SCA, can save up to 74% of victims.