Addressing Cardiac Arrest in 2024: Highlights from the CSRC Think Tank & Heart to Heart
We’re not even through the first month of the new year, and we’ve already garnered enough motivation to last us through the next eleven months. We spent four days in Durham, North Carolina attending the Cardiac Safety Research Consortium’s (CSRC) think tank at Duke University just ahead of Parent Heart Watch’s (PHW) annual Heart to Heart conference.
Nearly seven years ago, our co-founders Rory Beyer and Sameer Jafri met at PHW, so Heart to Heart always serves as a personal reminder of how important these events are to create space for innovation and change.
This year, we were lucky to have had the opportunity to send a few of our leadership team members to attend the informative, poignant events and deliver presentations at the CSRC think tank and Heart to Heart meetings, “I think the conference itself is always an incredible, usually somber, yet motivating event. You see the people and the families directly impacted by cardiac arrest, and those stories make you want to roll up your sleeves and do more…There’s a yearning for change,” shared Chief Commercialization Officer, Micah Bongberg.
CSRC: Prevention of Sudden Cardiac Death in the Young, Pathway to Survival
Scientists, doctors, clinicians, and academics came together for two days at the CSRC think tank to present research, celebrate successes, and offer insight into how, as a community, we can better address cardiac arrest in youth. The speakers were asked to be provocative, and the attendees were encouraged to ask tough questions.
The agenda reflected topics related to both primary and secondary prevention of sudden cardiac death, where primary prevention refers to preemptive measures, such as heart screenings and genetic testing, and secondary prevention relates to improving treatment initiatives like CPR training and AED placement.
Why Aren’t AEDs Everywhere?
Overcoming Cardiac Arrest Barriers to the Future
Avive’s Chief Commercialization Officer Micah Bongberg contributed to the discussion by offering an industry perspective on the assigned topic, “Why Aren’t AEDs Everywhere? Overcoming Barriers to the Future.” Bongberg argued that the question, why Aren’t AEDs everywhere, may not be the one we should be asking ourselves. Instead, he shared that AEDs might be more common than we suspect, but they go unused for various reasons. More specifically, he shared how technological capabilities of traditional AEDs and their placement lead to data gaps between likely responders with AEDs and those in need of the therapy.
In his presentation, Bongberg shared data from a community in eastern Washington, which is one of the highest-performing cities addressing cardiac arrest in the United States today. The community has an overall survival rate of 24% (14% higher than the national average) and an Utstein survival rate of 62%, thanks to massive CPR training initiatives, diligent AED maintenance, and efficient EMS. However, after looking at maps that show the placement of AEDs overlaid with historic locations of Sudden Cardiac Arrests (with and without an AED applied), it’s easy to make a couple of observations:
- Most AEDs that were near SCA events were not used during the emergency
- Many clusters of SCA events occurred in areas where there are no AEDs (i.e. residential communities)
- Many clusters of AEDs exist in places where no historic incidents of cardiac arrest have occurred
The data highlights that even in top performing cities with many nearby and available AEDs, devices aren’t being used when they need to be. This could be due to several factors, such as bystander fear or hesitancy, the cardiac arrest is not recognized quickly enough, or lack of AED awareness. Further, these observations suggest that the placement of AEDs is not fully optimized to consider historical incidents of cardiac arrest.
“There are commonly AEDs near us, but when they’re needed, we just don’t know where to find them. Similarly, those with AEDs don’t know when and where it’d be helpful to respond,” Bongberg posited. He then introduced the Avive Connect AED™ and explained how its 911 connectivity capabilities, ultra-portable size, and user-friendly design pose a viable, fresh solution to this problem.
Learn more about the Avive Connect AED Features.
Ideas for Change
It was clear from the presentations and discussions at CSRC that the medical and research communities are very well aligned on the primary and secondary prevention strategies for cardiac death–including the effectiveness of heart screenings, early CPR, and rapid defibrillation.
While the research shared at CSRC undoubtedly points to the importance of what the community is already doing to combat cardiac arrest, it also begs the question: what else can we do with this information today to change how we tackle this problem as an industry?
Shaping the National Narrative
Many of the attendees and members of PHW have been personally impacted by SCA and, as a result, have chosen to dedicate their lives to improving outcomes. Many have passed legislation, screened children and teens, and donated AEDs to prevent other families from experiencing the painful, preventable loss they experienced.
Noble summarized, “It really is inspiring to see these families who have lost so much turn their tragedies into something powerful and tangible. This small but mighty group of families and community organizations is moving the needle on policy and awareness in this country.”
Every year, community-led SCA groups make local impacts on laws and policies by pushing to require AEDs in businesses, schools, and residential settings, all of which help to establish a standard of care for AEDs.
While the wins may seem small or regional, collectively, they create a real opportunity to add to the national narrative around cardiac arrest and encourage a culture of prevention and preparedness.
Getting AEDs into the Home
Research shows us that while 70-80% of cardiac arrest incidents happen in the home, rarely are AEDs found there. “In my experience, less than 4% of units are sold to residences, and even when they are, it’s often a small business shipping a device to their home, not for use in a residence,” explained Bongberg.
Small, portable, and affordable units like the Avive Connect AED make owning an AED more attainable for families and individuals–not to mention larger apartment buildings and condo complexes– with the goal of getting AEDs into places where they are needed and where they currently don’t exist today.
Creative Ways to Allocate More Dollars
Like any public health crisis, we know that approaching an enormous problem like SCA takes money: money to screen, money to place AEDs, money for training and tools and resources. Inspired by the conversations in Durham, we’d like to encourage the community to consider untapped, creative ways to allocate top-down funding to prevent sudden cardiac death.
For example, many state laws mandate and require AEDs in facilities across industries–some states require AEDs in schools, gyms, public buildings or airports. However, none of these laws have fines for noncompliance.
Without a consequence for noncompliance, what incentive is there to comply?
This presents an opportunity to instate fines for lack of AED compliance and then allocate that money to advance SCA-related issues and care. Other fields and industries, like trauma funding, have used this model to fund and facilitate efforts to inspire positive change. It’s time our industry caught up.
Eliminating Sudden Cardiac Death in Youth
The goal of the PHW charter is to eliminate preventable deaths and disabilities from SCA in youth by 2030. Toward that end, Avive is working to not only place AEDs in the locations where people most often experience cardiac arrest, but we’ve created an innovative product with next-generation features and connectivity that puts forth a fresh approach to a decades-old problem.
Sure, we need more AEDs, but if the solution to improving SCA survival was only a matter of getting more AEDs out to the public, we’d have solved it by now.
Continuing to add to the national narrative, expanding the presence of AEDs into spaces where they don’t currently exist, imagining new ways to fund SCA prevention, and putting forth innovative technology all play important roles in advancing this mission. It’s an ambitious goal, but one that we feel more inspired than ever to tackle with the support of such a strong community.