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Most Cardiac Arrests in Schools Occur in Adults

School-based CPR and automated external defibrillators may benefit staff and visitors more than students

MONDAY, Aug. 27 (HealthDay News) -- About 90 percent of cases of cardiac arrest in schools occur in adults -- such as faculty, staff and other adults including visitors -- not students, according to study findings published online Aug. 27 in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Lindsay White, M.P.H., from Public Health Seattle and King County in Seattle, and colleagues examined the characteristics of cardiac arrests at schools in Seattle and King County treated by emergency medical services from 1990 to 2005.

The researchers found that there were 97 cases of cardiac arrest at schools during this period, accounting for 2.6 percent of public location cardiac arrests, of which 12 occurred in students, 33 occurred in faculty and staff, and 45 occurred in other adults. Many of these were witnessed and received bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). The annual incidence of cardiac arrest was about 25 times higher in faculty and staff than students (4.51 versus 0.18 per 100,000 person-years).

The study "supports the assertion that school-based CPR and automated external defibrillator programs would benefit faculty and staff members, as well as visitors to the school who, because of their age, are at greater risk of cardiac arrest than the students," White and colleagues conclude.

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