How do the UK’s SCA survival rates compare against other countries?

23/03/20

Every year more than seven million people globally suffer from a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) with no prior warning. And only 5 to 10% of those afflicted actually survive. 
According to the British Heart Foundation, 130,000 people in the UK suffer from SCA out of hospital every year, with around 8% surviving. 84% of all SCAs are said to occur outside of a healthcare setting. How is this possible? Well, most cardiac emergencies occur ‘out of the blue’. Apart from genetic factors, such as a family history of coronary heart disease, or lifestyle factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity and diabetes, there is very little that can predict SCA. And the worst part is that without prompt action from others, the sufferer can be dead within minutes. 

SCA in the USA 
According to the American Heart Association, there are more than 365,000 out of hospital cardiac arrests annually in the US – with around 90% of these being fatal (the US official survival rate is currently 10.6%). It is considered one of the leading causes of death. However, Seattle, and King County in particular, has the highest average survival rate of anywhere in the world (62% in 2013). 

UK perception towards first aid 
The 8% survival rate in the UK is very good, when compared with global stats, yet it could be much higher with the right training and accessible equipment. Worryingly, research conducted by the Resuscitation Council found that less than half of bystanders in the UK would help after witnessing someone collapse. This is substantially lower than other areas with comparable demographics; the CPR rate in Norway is 73%, Seattle 66% and North Holland 60%. Unsurprisingly, these locations also have the highest survival rates, 25%, 22% and 21%, respectively. 

Preparing people for emergencies
For every minute that passes between collapse and defibrillation, the likelihood of surviving SCA decreases by 10%. When early, effective, bystander CPR is provided, survival rates can double or triple. What these stats tell us is that as a nation we need to improve our skills and to prepare ourselves for cardiac emergencies, which can happen anywhere and at any time. First aid is not currently on the national curriculum, or mandatory training for adults, which means many people do not have the opportunity to learn CPR or to confidently use a defibrillator. When this changes, we will see a dramatic increase in SCA survival rates in the UK.

For more information on SCA survival rates and our range of AEDs and training solutions, download our guide – How to Save a Life.


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