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It’s time for a new approach to saving lives

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 Each year, an estimated 300,000 Americans die from sudden cardiac arrest – more than car crashes, firearms, house fires, AIDS, and breast, prostate and colorectal cancer combined. What’s more, this top killer can strike anyone, at any age, even without warning.

Take Heart America brings doctors, nurses, paramedics, community leaders and people like you together in a new program designed to dramatically increase the number of people who survive.

Take Heart America (THA) is a systems-based approach to sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) resuscitation that includes sequential implementation of the most highly recommended aspects of the 2010 American Heart Association (AHA) Guidelines to more than double neurologically-intact survival hospital discharge for all patients with an out-of-hospital SCA.  THA is one of the first programs to take a community-based, multi-faceted approach to saving patients of SCA by combining multiple resuscitation interventions with a public health education campaign. 

THA is a collaborative effort including the lay public, local businesses, health departments, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) medical directors, EMS personnel, hospital and ambulance associations, regulatory boards, hospital personnel and associations, SCA associations, AHA, device manufacturers and others.

Goal    THA’s primary goal is to improve the overall survival rate from out-of-hospital SCA from <5% to >20%.  This is being accomplished by harnessing the synergy from simultaneous deployment of techniques proven to increase survival from SCA.

Introduction   THA began as a demonstration project in December 2005 which was designed to show how cardiac arrest survival rates in America’s cities can be significantly increased through a comprehensive community-wide, systems-based approach.  To accomplish this, four sites were selected who then deployed state-of-the-art resuscitation science strategies:  Columbus, OH; Austin, TX; and in St. Cloud and Anoka County, MN.  From analyses of data from the St. Cloud and Anoka County sites, results confirm that implementation of the systems-based approach does indeed increase survivability from sudden cardiac arrest: from 8.5% to 19%.  Austin, TX, and Columbus, OH, have experienced similar results. 

Following the success of the four pilot communities, THA implemented the first state-wide initiative in Minnesota beginning the third quarter of 2009 – Take Heart Minnesota.  An executive director and program manager were hired to administer the program and to create a plan that can be replicated throughout the country taking into consideration diversity related to size, culture, and a community’s approach to EMS and healthcare. 

Background   Almost 1,000 out-of-hospital SCA events occur each day, making this epidemic the nation’s number one killer. Despite 50 years of effort, survival from SCA across the United States remains dismal. Less than five percent of SCA victims leave the hospital alive. Surviving SCA depends on rapid, successful delivery of a range of therapies by ordinary residents, EMS and specialized medical professionals. THA is unique in being a comprehensive community-wide approach to SCA. Our sites combine a variety of resuscitation innovations, each known to be effective separately, but when used together in an integrated fashion, have proven to dramatically increase the odds of living and resuming a productive life.

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