News | October 26, 2009

Medtronic Foundation, Take Heart Minnesota Initiative Hopes to Increase SCA Survival

October 26, 2009 – Medtronic Foundation and Take Heart Minnesota today announced a comprehensive statewide initiative, the first in the nation, designed to increase sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) survival rates.

SCA is a condition in which the heart abruptly stops without warning. More than 4,500 cases of SCA were reported in Minnesota in 2008, an average of 12.5 incidences per day. In St. Cloud and Anoka County, two communities participating in pilot programs, survival rates jumped from 9.3 percent to 17 percent in just two years.

When SCA strikes, treatment must be delivered within minutes and followed up with effective, appropriate care en route to and in the hospital for the best chance of survival. The Take Heart Minnesota initiative will implement a multipronged, systems-based approach that simultaneously coordinates and enhances SCA training and technologies for the general public, first responders (police/fire), and emergency medical services (EMS) as well as for effective post-resuscitation care in the hospital to maximize survival rates.

Because comprehensive statewide SCA survival data is currently lacking, part of Take Heart Minnesota’s initiative also will be to collect and track SCA incidents and “saves” throughout the state.

Out of the eight EMS regions in the state, Take Heart Minnesota will be expanding to five areas, including the South Central, Metro, Central, West Central and Southeast regions. These efforts will continue to grow with a goal to have all 17,000 first responders in the state trained by 2011.

Additionally, to make certain the correct equipment is available to rescuers, 5,500 ResQPODs, an impedance threshold device (ITD), will be donated by Take Heart Minnesota partner Advanced Circulatory Systems Inc. to first responder agencies throughout Minnesota. An ITD is a device that enhances circulation while performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

“We know we can improve survival rates when all the systems are working together,” said Keith Lurie, M.D., co-founder of Take Heart Minnesota and an electrophysiologist at St. Cloud Hospital. “By properly training the general public, first responders and hospital staff and arming them with state-of-the art technologies, we believe we can save at least one more Minnesotan each day.”

One Minnesota survivor, Dawn Blake, 37, serves as an example for the positive impact of the Take Heart Minnesota approach. In 2006, two days before her 33rd birthday, Dawn experienced an uncomfortable back pain and told her husband she was going to lie down on the couch. About 20 minutes later, he heard a strange noise and discovered that Dawn was unresponsive as a result of SCA.

Her husband immediately started CPR, and when the police arrived three minutes later, they used an automated external defibrillator (AED). Two minutes later, paramedics who had undergone the Take Heart Minnesota training arrived and began high performance CPR using an ITD and an AED. Dawn received a total of 10 shocks before arriving at Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids, and she was without a pulse or life signs for 35 minutes.

The doctors used cooling therapy to bring her body temperature down to preserve brain function and placed her in an induced coma before moving her to the University of Minnesota, where she remained unconscious for four days. It has now been three years, and with only a few minor lifestyle adjustments, she has regained a sense of normalcy in her day-to-day schedule.

Take Heart Minnesota is part of a nationwide initiative called Take Heart America, which received more than $500,000 in primary funding from the Medtronic Foundation and Medtronic, Inc. to establish pilot programs in four U.S. communities, including the two in Minnesota, and to launch the statewide program in Minnesota.

With dramatic improvements in SCA survival demonstrated in Minnesota when a systems-based approach is implemented, the Medtronic Foundation plans to invest resources using this community-wide model as an anchor for future efforts. Ultimately, the Medtronic Foundation would like to support implementation of similar life-saving programs throughout the country.

“For more than a decade, we’ve helped develop and fund cutting-edge SCA awareness and training programs that save lives,” said David Etzwiler, executive director of the Medtronic Foundation. “And with October being SCA Awareness month, timing could not be better to announce our extended goals and support of programs like Take Heart Minnesota. We believe this approach will positively impact survival rates in this state, and ultimately, the nation.”

Sudden Cardia Arrest is a condition in which the heart abruptly stops without warning. Most sudden cardiac arrest episodes are caused by the rapid and/or chaotic activity of the heart known as ventricular tachycardia (VT) or ventricular fibrillation (VF). These are abnormalities of the heart’s electrical conduction system. SCA is the leading cause of death throughout the world, and more than 250,000 Americans die each year from this condition.

Cardiac arrest is reversible in most victims if it’s treated within minutes, but the only effective treatment is the delivery of an electrical shock, either with an automated external defibrillator (AED), or with a stop watch-sized implantable defibrillator.

About Take Heart America?Take Heart America was founded by a network of visionaries who recognized that a coordinated, comprehensive approach to resuscitation therapies would substantially increase sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) survival rates beyond the benefits achieved with individual therapies alone. The initial results from St. Cloud, Minn. and Anoka County, Minn. have been remarkably successful.
Building community awareness is paramount to the Take Heart America strategy for saving lives. Teaching cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and encouraging those who have been trained to act when necessary can significantly increase an SCA victim’s chance of survival.

The strategy to deploy automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) in residential communities and public places along with improving the resuscitation techniques of professional rescuers will also increase the chances for the victim to survive and resume a productive life. Take Heart America strategies involve working with hospitals to develop clear procedures for ensuring optimal hospital treatment and post-resuscitation care for each SCA survivor.

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