SMEs should take heart

While businesses of all sizes are starting to invest in the wellness of their employees by introducing company health schemes, gym memberships and stop-smoking initiatives, they are overlooking the UK’s biggest killer, sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) says a campaign to raise awareness on the issue.

According to the campaign, in conjunction with medical devices company Laerdal, SCA causes the heart to either quiver or stop beating altogether and claims over 80,000 lives in the UK each year in comparison with 33,000 deaths from lung cancer and 20,000 from workplace accidents.

Cardiologist Dr Tony Handley comments: ‘In the UK someone has a sudden cardiac arrest about every two minutes and the overall survival rate is less than five per cent. These statistics make grim reading, but are generally not well known. Many employers do not consider the risk of SCA when looking at their health and safety protocols.’

Once someone has gone into SCA, without CPR and defibrillation being applied within ten minutes, they have virtually no chance of survival. For every minute without treatment the victim’s chances of survival are reduced by a further ten per cent, says the campaign.

In the US, businesses now train staff in CPR and defibrillation. This initiative has proved so successful that SCA survival rates in the US have risen from less than 20 per cent to more than 65 per cent since the laws were put in place less than a decade ago.

According to the campaign, with such dramatic changes in survival rates, experts are predict that it won’t be long before CPR courses and onsite defibrillators become commonplace in the UK.

For more information on sudden cardiac arrest and heart disease visit the British Heart Foundation website at

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