October 8, 2003

UCSD’s Cardiovascular Center to Offer
Reduced Cost Defibrillators to the Public


Each year 350,000 to 400,000 people die of sudden cardiac death. Early defibrillation, an electric shock to the heart by an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), is essential to survival. UCSD’s Cardiovascular Center announced it has joined with device manufacturer, Medtronic, to offer AEDs to the public at a reduced cost. Medtronic’s AEDs typically sell for over $2500. The company has agreed to provide AEDs for the UCSD Cardiovascular Center’s Save-A-Life Defibrillator Program for $1995 each.

“The single most important determinant for survival is early defibrillation. If more people were trained and more units were available, we could save more lives. If you don’t get defibrillated until ten minutes after your arrest, your chance of survival is less than 2%, ” said Ulrika Green, M.D., a cardiac arrhythmia specialist and Director of the Pacemaker/ICD Clinic at UCSD Medical Center.

UCSD’s Cardiovascular Center seeks to help patients and the public benefit from new treatments and technologies as they are developed and make certain they have access to the latest procedures and equipment. The Save-A-Life Defibrillator Program fulfills this primary tenet of the Cardiovascular Center by seeking to place as many defibrillators as possible in the community, said Green.

The reduced price will make the units affordable for individuals and businesses that cater to large crowds such as hotels, restaurants, amusement parks, shopping malls, banks, theaters, museums, outdoor entertainment venues and office buildings.

According to national studies, the majority of cardiac arrests in the United States occur in the home or work place. The response time of most paramedic teams is typically 8-12 minutes. Each minute that passes results in a 10% reduced chance of survival. According to the American Heart Association, approximately 95 percent of all sudden cardiac arrest victims die before reaching a hospital.

Green says it is vital to defibrillate as quickly as possible to restore normal heart rhythm. An abnormal heart rhythm called ventricular fibrillation (VF) is the most common cause of sudden cardiac arrest. When VF occurs, the heart rhythm becomes chaotic, disabling the heart’s ability to pump blood. A defibrillator delivers a shock to the heart that interrupts the chaotic rhythm and allows normal rhythms to begin again.

The company designed the machines for use by first responders to cardiac emergencies. The Medtronic AEDs are lightweight, portable, easy to operate and do not require extensive medical knowledge for operation; nevertheless, purchasers will receive authorized AED training by the UCSD Cardiac Life Support Training Program.

The units have the capability to deliver shocks at energy levels that meet current American Heart Association and international guidelines, and are the same type as those used in emergency rooms throughout the United States. The Medtronic AED provides clear voice prompts and screen displays that instruct the user to attach electrodes to analyze the patient’s heart rhythm. If the AED’s computer determines the patient’s heart is in a shockable rhythm, it prompts the user to deliver the defibrillation shock.

The American Heart Association estimates that if survival rates from sudden cardiac arrest increased from the current 5 percent to 20 percent, 40,000 more lives would be saved per year.

For information on the Save-A-Life Defibrillator Program call Christine Meyer at 619-543-3605.

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News Media Contact
Jeffree Itrich

UCSD Health Sciences Communications HealthBeat: http://health.ucsd.edu/news