Study: Hospitals Too Slow to Shock Hearts

30% of cardiac arrests receiving care too late
By Dustin Lushing,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 2, 2008 7:42 PM CST
Doctors and nurses stand beside obesity patient Carlos Marroquin during a gastric bypass surgery in Guatemala City, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2007. Marroquin died hours after the surgery of a heart attack. (AP...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – American hospitals are taking too long to revive the hearts of patients who suffer cardiac arrest, a study finds. Electric shock from a defibrillator can restart a stopped heart, but only if it is done quickly. The American Heart Association recommends that patients in cardiac arrest receive treatment within two minutes, but 30% wait longer, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Survival rates for patients in cardiac arrest dwindle with time—39% of those receiving a shock within the recommended two minutes lived; by five minutes, survival rates dipped to 15%. The study's lead researcher said he hopes the findings will spark discussion on how hospitals can speed their response, be it by training nurses on manual defibrillators or installing automated versions.