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Inequities in access and use of automated external defibrillators
  1. Alexander H Maass
  1. Department of Cardiology, University of Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to Dr Alexander H Maass, Cardiology, University of Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands; a.h.maass{at}

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Sudden cardiac death is one of the main causes of mortality in patients with known or occult cardiac disease and is potentially preventable by early resuscitation. Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) have evolved as ‘game changers’ in the treatment of haemodynamically unstable ventricular arrhythmias as they can be used by virtually untrained members of the public. The usage of AEDs, however, can be improved as they are only employed in <20% of resuscitations.1 Underuse of AEDs is a multifaceted problem with the number of available devices in a given distance to a person with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA).

Burgoine et al describe the density of AEDs in Great Britain and correlate it with socioeconomic deprivation.2 They demonstrate differences in distances to the nearest 24/7-accessible AED between the most and least deprived communities. In addition, they also showed that there are differences between England, Scotland and Wales. Average distance to an off-hour available AED was 991 m in England, 994 m in Scotland but only 570 m in Wales. Furthermore, in Wales, AEDs were not further away in the most-deprived communities, whereas in England and Scotland distance to a 24/7-available AED was respectively 99 m and 317 m further than in the least-deprived communities. The difference can be at least in part be explained by the differences in off-hour availability of AEDs. In Great Britain, 57% of AEDs are in a restricted location, 54% …

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  • Contributors I am the sole author of the editorial.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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