BHF response to cardiac arrest survival in specialist heart centres

30 March 2017        

Category: BHF Comment

A person clasping their hands over their heart

A new study reveals that people who suffer from a cardiac arrest outside of hospital have a better chance of survival if they are taken immediately to a specialist heart centre rather than to the nearest general hospital.

Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark suggest that by going to a specialist heart centre, no matter how far away it is, you are 45 per cent more likely to survive compared to patients who were not treated this way. This is because of invasive diagnostic and treatment procedures being performed more quickly in specialist heart centres.

Researchers analysed data from 41,186 patients who had suffered an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest between 2001 and 2013 in Denmark. A total of 3,550 (9 per cent) patients were still alive 30 days after suffering a cardiac arrest; 7,373 patients (29 per cent) were admitted directly to an invasive heart centre, while the majority, 17,991, were admitted to a local hospital. The findings were published in the European Heart Journal.

Compared with other cardiac arrest patients, admission directly to an invasive heart centre was associated with an 11 per cent improvement in the chances of still being alive 30 days after the event. Additionally, being in a highly populated area (population density above 2000 people per square kilometre) was linked to a 10 per cent improvement and CPR by a bystander was linked to a 10 per cent improvement.

Ultimate medical emergency

Although the study only used data from Denmark, the research highlights the need for quick and effective care in the face of the ultimate medical emergency.

Mike Knapton, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation said: “If you have an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, your chances of survival improve if you are taken to a specialist heart centre. This isn’t the first time that research has pointed towards paramedics bypassing local hospitals and heading to one of the UK’s specialist heart centres. Paramedics make these specialised hospitals the first point of call, providing they are within a reasonable distance. 

“The emergency services respond to more than 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in the UK every year, but sadly less than one in ten people survive. If you see someone who has suddenly collapsed and is unresponsive, it is vital that you call 999 and start administering CPR without delay to increase their chances of survival.”