The COVID-19 pandemic has dominated the news cycle for the past several months, from discussions about transmissibility to economic shutdown to drug trials. But a lesser-talked about medical phenomena during this pandemic is that the occurrence of sudden cardiac arrests (SCA) skyrocketed over the past several months. A study published by Dr. Paul S. Chan, Outcomes for Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest in the United States During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic, reported a spike in SCAs in New York City in March and April over those same months in 2019, as well as an increase in mortality rate of these events. Let’s have a look at the numbers:
- From March to April 2020, there were three times more SCA cases than those same months in 2019
- On April 6, New York City experienced its worst day for cardiac arrests at 305 cases. This is nearly ten times higher than cardiac arrests on April 6, 2019.
- The mortality rate rose from 75% in 2019 to 90% in 2020
We can’t conclusively know if these cases are directly due to COVID-19, or are caused by other health conditions that went untreated due to the coronavirus outbreak. However, it is clear that the pandemic has drastically increased sudden cardiac arrests occurrences and fatalities, either directly or indirectly. Researchers explored possible ways that COVID-19 could trigger heart problems, and suspect that acute respiratory failure, pneumonia, and the weakening of blood vessels may be underlying causes for this spike in SCAs. If nothing else, the past several months have highlighted the shortcomings of our healthcare systems, and emphasized the importance of greater accessibility to quality care. At AED.US, we are committed to providing communities with the devices and technologies needed to care for their people. With proper education and prevalence of life-saving devices, we can strengthen the chain of survival and save more lives.
Chan, P. et al. (2020). Outcomes for Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest in the US During the COVID-19 Pandemic. JAMA Cardiology, 6. doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2020.6210.
Written by Blaire Kingsmore
Customer Service Director
Fact checked by Phillip Woods, BA, NREMT-P, FP-C
Blaire attended the University of Tennessee where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Human Ecology- Child and Family Studies. She has been in the Automated External Defibrillator (AED) industry for over eight years and is the Director of Customer Service for Coro Medical. Blaire is also an American Red Cross-certified CPR/AED/First Aid Instructor, highly trained by each manufacturer on their specific AEDs, and knowledgeable regarding ALL State AED regulations and legislation.
“I know that every day I come to work, I am playing a part in saving someone’s life. I am passionate about these devices and am always looking for new and innovative ways to spread awareness and knowledge about Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). I look forward to the day when everywhere I go, I will see an AED—when SCA will no longer take any lives.”
Last updated December 18, 2023