Recently a 14-year-old teenager made national headlines when he was diagnosed to have a heart attack during the second half of a youth league basketball game. The setting was the gym at the Jewish Community Center in Walnut Creek, Contra Costa County, California.

 

The teen was noted to collapse during play in the second half of the game. Officials and an off-duty nurse noted increasing exhibition of symptoms such as irregular eye movement, change in facial expression, and both heartbeat and breathing temporarily ceased. The likely cause was a condition known as ventricular tachycardia. Medicinenet.com defines ventricular tachycardia, VT, as an abnormal heart rhythm that is rapid, regular, and originates in the lower chambers, (ventricles) of the heart. Incidentally, paramedics were summoned, and additionally, a lifeline along with an automatic external defibrillator, AED, was employed to restart the lad’s heart. Once the heartbeat was noted to restart, normal rhythm was soon noted. Generally the pulse rate in ventricular tachycardia is noted to be at least 100 beats a minute with at least three irregular heartbeats occurring consecutively.

Noted incidence of ventricular fibrillation show survival from cardiac arrest to be around 15 percent. This is likely because most events are either unwitnessed or occur in more private settings. Compared to cardiopulmonary resuscitation, CPR, recovery from ventricular fibrillation is somewhat greater, up to 30%.

Historically, in the USA practical defibrillators date back to the 1920s. This was in response to a reported increase of electric shock accidents and deaths. Funding for these devices largely came from Consolidated Edison of New York. About four decades later it was determined that direct current, DC, was superior to alternating current, AC, for defibrillation. Later that same decade, in Oregon the first noted defibrillation was performed on a patient by paramedics unassisted by physicians.

Today AED devices are found in public venues across the USA. These include airports, universities, casinos and some public stadiums. In the 1990s the Federal Drug Administration approved use of AED devices by lay-persons, and their further innovation is ongoing.

Find out more about our AED and CPR training classes so you’re better prepared to save a life.