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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 September, 2004, 23:13 GMT 00:13 UK
Public venues get heart machines
Man being treated with a defibrillator
Defibrillators restore the heart's rhythm to normal
Life-saving defibrillators are to be installed in thousands of shopping centres, football grounds and tourist attractions across England.

The mobile devices, which deliver a controlled electric shock to restore the heart to its normal rhythm, are used to treat heart attack victims.

The British Heart Foundation is awarding 2,285 extra defibrillators to ambulance services for distribution.

The 6m project is being funded by money from the Big Lottery Fund.

The project will also fund a community defibrillation officer who will train up volunteers to the devices.
We will be able to give many more people a second chance at life.
Katharine Peel, British Heart Foundation

Around 270,000 people suffer a heart attack in the UK each year, with about a third dying from cardiac arrest before reaching hospital.

Cardiac arrests usually occur because of a heart attack, when the heart is starved of oxygen. The heart either quivers - known as fibrillation - or stops beating altogether.

Seven out of 10 cardiac arrests happened outside hospital, but only 2 to 3% of these cases survive.

A patient's chances of survival drop by up to 10% for every minute that passes, meaning that having a defibrillator close at hand could make all the difference.

'Help at hand'

The BHF says that installing the defibrillators in community settings, and training people to use them, was crucial in saving even more lives.

It has already funded 2,000 defibrillators in sites in the community across the UK, and 1,100 in GP surgeries.

The Department of Health has also installed 700 defibrillators in public places.

Katharine Peel, head of emergency life support at the BHF, said: "When we meet people whose lives have been saved by defibrillators, we learn that their value is priceless.

"Now, with the crucial help of volunteers and the expertise of the ambulance trusts, we will be able to give many more people a second chance at life."

Public Health Minister Melanie Johnson added: "The government has made heart disease a top priority and we have already succeeded in reducing deaths in cardiovascular disease by 23% in people aged under 75.

"By introducing defibrillators in railway stations, shopping centres, airports and bus stations across the country, more help is now on hand for people who unfortunately suffer a cardiac arrest in public places. This has already saved lives."

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06 Sep 02  |  Health

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