Each year, nearly 300,000 Americans collapse from sudden cardiac arrest (heart attack). In sudden cardiac arrest, the heart unexpectedly stops pumping blood to the body. When normal heart rhythms are not restored quickly, sudden cardiac arrest can cause death.
Sudden cardiac arrest usually happens without warning, and the majority of people have no previously recognized symptoms of heart disease. Patient survival depends on a rapid sequence of rescue events that may include the successful delivery of a high-energy shock from an external defibrillator.
Speed is critical -- first responders have only minutes before patients are beyond rescue.