The Ministry of Health and Welfare is considering installing automated external defibrillators (AEDs) at more public places, including temples, to reduce fatalities from sudden cardiac arrest, a senior health official said.
The ministry was investigating the feasibility of expanding the current installation of AEDs to more public spaces, such as popular temples, community centers and junior-high and elementary schools, Department of Medical Affairs Director-General Shih Chung-liang (石崇良) said.
AEDs are already installed in public venues, including transportation hubs, tourist attractions, high schools, universities, assembly sites, leisure areas that attract at least 3,000 people a day, large shopping malls, hotels and hot spring areas, Shih said.
The review came after the death on Wednesday of Canadian-Taiwanese actor and model Godfrey Gao (高以翔) in China.
Gao, 35, reportedly collapsed during production of a show and his heart stopped beating for several minutes before someone performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on him, a Zhejiang Province, China, news agency reported on Wednesday.
He was then rushed to a hospital, but doctors were unable to resuscitate him and he was officially pronounced dead, according to JetStar, his agency.
Lin Hao-yang (林皓陽), an attending physician at the Emergency Medicine Department of National Taiwan University Hospital’s Yunlin Branch, said that of the 20,000 people a year in Taiwan who experience cardiac arrest and are then taken to a hospital, only 10 percent are resuscitated.
Based on US and European studies, when someone collapses suddenly, their chance of survival can climb to more than 50 percent if CPR is performed and an AED device is used in time, he said.
The AED, a portable electronic device used to help those experiencing sudden cardiac arrest, can analyze the heart’s rhythm and, if necessary, deliver an electrical shock to help the heart re-establish an effective rhythm, Lin said.
Sudden cardiac arrest is among the leading causes of death in the US, according to the American Red Cross.
AEDs are “a ray of hope” for people who experience arrhythmia or sudden cardiac arrest at a public place, Lin said, adding that most cases are related to ventricular fibrillation, which is when the heart quivers instead of pumping due to faulty electrical activity in the ventricles.
In that condition, “the heart can no longer pump blood to vital organs, and eventually the heartbeat stops, leading to death,” Lin said.
He urged those who have received first-aid training not to hesitate to perform CPR on people who suddenly collapse, and to try to acquire an AED while calling 119 for help.
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