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First aid saves lives - the facts speak for themselves


(Vienna, 29th September 2014) Cases of sudden cardiac arrest in Austria are increasing. Studies at the University Department of Emergency Medicine at the MedUni Vienna and the Vienna General Hospital in collaboration with the Vienna Berufsrettung emergency rescue service highlight the need for rapid help in the event of a cardiovascular collapse.

Diseases affecting the cardiovascular system are the most common cause of death worldwide. Around a third of cases can be attributed to a sudden cardiac arrest. From a statistical point of view, around one in ten Austrians will be affected directly by this issue in their lifetime. The absolute figures are growing, due to the population's demographic development. Studies by the University Department of Emergency Medicine at the MedUni Vienna have demonstrated that rapid first aid measures can save lives.

Out of 701 patients who suffered a cardiac arrest and who were resuscitated by the crews and emergency doctors of the Vienna Berufsrettung organisation between August 2013 and April 2014, 359 had had a collapse witnessed by other people. In 45 per cent of these cases, first aid measures were commenced by witnesses before the arrival of the ambulance crew. This effort paid off. "People who were given first aid had a significantly higher chance of survival than the majority of the people who did not receive any help from a first aider," explains Fritz Sterz, leader of the "Vienna Cardiac Arrest Registry" study group, from the University Department of Emergency Medicine, "and the risk of lasting brain damage was also reduced if resuscitation was commenced straight away."

In the majority of witnessed cardiac arrests, the emergency services were notified, but nobody started resuscitation. There is still tremendous potential for improvement here, say the emergency crews.

"It is important in our society to increase the willingness to carry out resuscitation in the event of a cardiac arrest. Everyone can become a direct lifesaver. Immediate help massively increases the chances of survival," says Mario Krammel from the University Department of Anaesthetics, General Intensive Care Medicine and Pain Therapy at the MedUni Vienna and Vienna General Hospital. He is a member of PULS, the association set up to help fight sudden cardiac death.

"Press me!" campaign
"Press me!" This is the motto that PULS, the association set up to help fight sudden cardiac death, and the working group of emergency medicine, are using to inspire people to get involved with first aid for "World Heart Day" on 29th September. The new, cross-regional campaign shows how easily and efficiently help can be administered in the event of a sudden cardiac arrest even before the emergency services arrive.

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