HEALTHY LIVING
08/13/2013 08:55 am ET

Chance Of Surviving Sudden Cardiac Arrest Is Highest In Gyms, Study Finds

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The place with the best chance of surviving sudden cardiac arrest -- a condition where the heart suddenly stops beating -- is also where you probably work out, according to a new study.

Findings published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology showed that the chances of survival are higher if you experience sudden cardiac arrest at a traditional exercise facility (read: gym) than at an "alternative" exercise facility (like a bowling alley, office/hotel gym or dance studio). Researchers noted that this is likely because of high numbers of automated external defibrillators (AEDs), which shock the heart, located in gyms. (For information on how to use an AED, click here.)

Sudden cardiac arrest is often fatal because it requires immediate treatment with an AED, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

"Our findings should encourage broader implementation of and adherence to recommendations for AED placement and sudden cardiac arrest response protocols at traditional exercise facilities," study researcher Richard L. Page, M.D., chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, said in a statement. "In addition, these standards should be extended to alternative fitness facilities, where sudden cardiac arrest incidence is comparable to that seen at traditional exercise facilities."

The study included analysis of sudden cardiac arrest incidents that occurred from 1996 to 2008 in public indoor areas in Seattle and King County in Washington. During this time frame, there were 849 cases, which occurred at traditional exercise facilities (52 cases), alternative exercise facilities (84 cases) and non-exercise facilities like a mall or the airport (713 cases).

Researchers found that the survival rate was highest for the sudden cardiac arrests that occurred at traditional exercise facilities, at 56 percent, followed by those at alternative exercise facilities, at 45 percent. The survival rate was lowest for sudden cardiac arrests at non-exercise facilities, at 34 percent.

Most of the sudden cardiac arrest cases occurred when the person was exercising -- 77 percent -- while 18 percent occurred after the person exercised and 4 percent occurred before the person exercised. The most common physical activity a person was engaging in when he or she experienced sudden cardiac arrest was basketball (making up 20.5 percent of sudden cardiac arrests), followed by dancing and general "working out" (11.6 percent each), running on the treadmill (8.9 percent) and playing tennis (6.3 percent).

Recently, a study presented at the ESC Congress last year showed that people also have a higher chance of surviving sudden cardiac arrest if it is exercise-related.

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