New alliance to fight biggest killer of middle-aged and young Australians

A new alliance of Australia’s leading heart experts, paramedics, CPR and victim family groups has met for the first time this week to take united action against a sinister type of heart problem that kills thousands of Australians each year – suddenly and without warning.

What are the numbers?

Sudden cardiac arrest affects 20,000 Aussies each year, and the outcomes are grim: 90% of people who suffer a sudden cardiac arrest die, 2,000 of them under the age of 50. There are no warning signs, meaning people can suddenly and tragically die front of their loved ones.

These deaths come with two large costs: in the form of untold grief to the thousands of families left behind each year, and nearly $2bn annually to the economy. In older people the cause is most likely to be a heart attack where a coronary artery suddenly becomes blocked.

These generally occur on a background of known risk factors. However, in middle-aged and younger people there are several causes of cardiac arrest that are not reliably identified by risk factors. Genetics is a factor but sometimes the cause remains unknown.

What was the purpose of the summit in Canberra?

What is known is many more thousands of Australians will continue to die from sudden cardiac arrest unless more effort is applied to understand and prevent it.

That’s why Australia’s top cardiac, paramedic, CPR and victim family representatives called the inaugural National Summit for Cardiac Arrest in Canberra, under the tagline ‘a race to save lives’, to develop a strategy to encourage Gov’ts to prioritise funding in two key areas:

  1. Education and awareness for bystanders
  • Helping more Australians know how they can try to restart a person’s heart should they be a bystander to a cardiac arrest, increasing the survival rate.

2. Understanding who is at risk and how it can be prevented

  • A greater commitment by Governments to fund research that will unlock the mystery behind the cause of sudden cardiac arrest, leading to better prevention.

The Summit was held in Canberra. A total of 69 participants from 45 organisations attended. Founding members and funders of the inaugural Summit are: Australian Cardiovascular Alliance, Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute, Centenary Institute, End UCD, Heart Foundation of Australia, Heart of the Nation, and Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute.