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Original research article
Outcomes after sudden cardiac arrest in sports centres with and without on-site external defibrillators


Objective Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is a rare but tragic event during amateur sports activities. Our aim is to analyse whether availability of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in amateur sports centres could impact on SCA survival.

Methods This is an observational study. During an 18-year period, data regarding exercise-related SCA in sports centres were prospectively collected. Survival rates and time to response were compared between centres with an AED already available and centres where an AED was not already present.

Results Out of 252 sports facilities, 207 (82%) acquired an AED during follow-up while 45 (18%) did not. From 1999 to 2014, there were 26 SCAs (24 (92%) men, 54±17 years old) with 15 (58%) of them in centres with on-site AED. Neurologically intact survival rates were 93% in centres with on-site AED and 9% in centres without (P<0.001). Presence of on-site AED, presence of shockable rhythm, first assistance by a lay bystander and time to defibrillation were all related to neurological intact survival, but the presence of on-site AED was the only independent predictor in the multivariate analysis. The use of on-site AED resulted in a lower time to first shock when compared with emergency medical system-delivered AED (3.3±1.4min vs 7.3±3.2 min; P=0.001).

Conclusions The presence of on-site AEDs is associated with neurologically intact survival after an exercise-related SCA. Continuous efforts are recommended in order to introduce AEDs in sports and fitness centres, implement educational programmes and increase common awareness about SCA.

  • cardiac arrest

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