Comment: Every second counts after a heart attack

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TESCO’s decision to install life-saving defibrillators in its biggest stores across the country is a fantastic move.

The number of people who are dying needlessly every day because they do not get the vital help they need quickly enough after suffering a heart attack is a national scandal. More than 30,000 people suffer a cardiac arrest outside of hospital in the UK every year, but the the survival rate is an abysmal eight per cent.

When someone suffers a heart attack, it really is a case of every second counts. For every minute that goes by without them receiving CPR and defibrillation, their chances of survival drop by ten per cent. That’s a frightening statistic.

The good news is that there is something that we can all do about it. And it isn’t difficult. Learning life-saving skills and putting defibrillators in publicly accessible buildings won’t save the life of everyone that suffers a heart attack in the community – but it will save countless thousands of them.

The footballer Fabrice Muamba made a remarkable recovery after suffering sudden heart failure as he played an FA Cup game for Bolton four years ago. The single most important factor in saving his life was the timely delivery of a life-saving electric shock from a defibrillator. Most people – including the young Edinburgh footballer Jamie Skinner – are not so lucky.

Tesco is installing the machines in more than 900 of its biggest stores, including many that are open around the clock, and several in the Capital. That means tens of thousands of us every day will be a lot closer to these vital pieces of equipment that could save our lives.

This follows the work of the Jamie Skinner Foundation, with the support of Evening News readers, to put defibs in sports centres across the Lothians. The sooner they are as common in our communities as fire extinguishers the better for us all.