A person who suffers a cardiac arrest in public has more than twice the chance of surviving if a bystander steps in to restart the heart with an automated external defibrillator before an emergency crew arrives at the scene, a new study has found.
Heidi Stewart is living proof of that finding.
Stewart was an 18-year-old competitive swimmer and high school senior when she collapsed from a cardiac arrest on Feb. 12, 2013. Feeling unusually lethargic, she walked into her school’s administrative office to seek help – and immediately passed out.
An office worker dialed 911 and called for the school nurse, who administered CPR and then used the school’s automated external defibrillator, or AED. Stewart’s heart was shocked three times over 10 minutes before emergency responders reached the school grounds.
“Without the AED, I would not be here today,” said Stewart, who was later diagnosed with a congenital heart defect. Now 23, she advocates for widespread distribution of the portable devices. “CPR alone would not have kept [me] alive.”
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