Campaign slashes cardiac arrest deaths

organ and tissue donation: hands holding red heart

The Heart Foundation’s “Warning Signs” public awareness campaign led to 1,300 fewer deaths from cardiac arrest in the Melbourne region between 2009 and 2013, a new study has shown.

A groundbreaking study, published in the European Heart Journal, found the campaign was associated with a substantial reduction in cardiac arrests and associated death.

The report found the “Warning Signs of a heart attack” campaign prevented one in six deaths from cardiac arrest in Victoria during the studied period.

Ambulance Victoria and Monash University conducted the research with Heart Foundation Victoria through an analysis of cardiac arrest cases recorded by the Victorian Ambulance Cardiac Arrest Registry (VACAR).

Heart Foundation Victoria CEO Kellie-Ann Jolly says a common cause of cardiac arrest is heart attack, particularly when treatment is delayed.

“The sooner a person recognises the warning signs of heart attack and seeks medical help, the sooner treatment can be provided to give the person a greater chance of survival.

“These findings show us how essential public awareness campaigns are in changing people’s behaviours and health outcomes to reduce deaths from cardiac arrest,” Jolly says.

Paramedic and clinical researcher at Ambulance Victoria Ziad Nehme says the study demonstrated the positive outcomes of public awareness campaigns on people’s ability to prevent the impact of a cardiac arrest.

“Our study confirmed that people are able to circumvent a cardiac arrest by recognising and acting on the warning signs, and public awareness campaigns play a significant role in this outcome,”  Nehme says.

The study suggested an annual campaign in Victoria could result in 500 fewer deaths from cardiac arrest each year.

The findings have prompted the Heart Foundation to renew its call for support from the Victorian Government and donor community to invest in a new campaign to educate Victorians about the warning signs of heart attack.

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