Too many major football clubs in Europe do not have adequate equipment and procedures in place for emergency resuscitation of people who suffer cardiac arrest, say researchers in the European Heart Journal.
The study of 187 top sports arenas in 10 European countries used by 190 elite football clubs found over a quarter did not have automated external defibrillators (AEDs) on site and even greater proportions had no action plan or basic or advanced cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training programs for staff. Lead author Mats Borjesson (Sahlgrenska University, Gothenburg, Sweden), who is chair of sports cardiology for the European Association of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation (EACPR), commented: "We believe that formal recommendations are needed urgently to improve safety for spectators and players. At the highest levels of sport, recommendations should be mandatory." Borjesson and colleagues surveyed each football club regarding 12 aspects of the cardiovascular safety program for the season 2000-2005. Results revealed that overall there were 77 sudden cardiac arrests, giving an estimated adjusted incidence of one sudden cardiac arrest per 589,000 spectators. No sudden cardiac arrests occurred among players or officials in the observed season. Of the 190 clubs, 137 (72%) reported the presence of an AED in their arena, with a broad range across different countries, at 0–100%. Only 122 (64%) clubs had a written medical action plan for sports events, again with a broad range, of 19–100%. And while 97% of clubs had an existing communication system, only 123 (65%) reported a basic CPR training program, and just 48 (26%) an advanced CPR program, was implemented at the club or ground. The majority (59%) of clubs were no more than a 5-minute drive from the nearest hospital, but of the 79 clubs that were further away, 20 (25%) had no AED present at the arena. Borjesson emphasized: "It is known that viewing and being emotionally engaged in a soccer game increases the likelihood of people suffering a heart attack, particularly amongst the middle-aged and elderly who are more at risk of heart disease. Our study confirms that spectators, in addition to the athletes, need adequate emergency medical procedures in place." The researchers point out that their findings likely depict the "best scenario" for sporting events in Europe, being based on major arenas. Read the abstract
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