Study: Response to heart attacks at Michigan golf courses isn’t up to par


Beaumont Hospital research finds use of AEDs on golf course is uncommon

Despite more than a decade of advocacy about defibrillator use, response to heart attacks at Michigan golf courses is still not up to par, a recent Beaumont Health System study finds.

Use of defibrillators in cardiac arrest cases at golf courses was rare, the study says, and preparedness and response wasn’t as good as it could be.

Dr. Swor

“Sudden cardiac arrest is an abrupt loss of heart function. If it’s not treated within minutes, cardiac arrest, or abrupt loss of heart function, can quickly lead to death,” says Robert Swor, D.O., the study’s principal investigator.

The study found that EMS response to cardiac arrest cases at golf courses was relatively long, almost 10 minutes.

“If someone collapses on a golf course, they are unlikely to get lifesaving treatment until EMS arrives,” says Dr. Swor, director of Emergency Medicine Research, Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak.

More widespread, publicly available automated external defibrillators, commonly called AEDs, might increase use of the devices and save more lives on golf courses, the study says.

An AED is a lightweight, portable device that delivers an electric shock through the chest to stop an irregular heart rhythm, which can cause death. The device, which “speaks” to the user providing step-by-step instructions, automatically diagnoses the heart rhythm to determine if a shock is needed. The preset electrical charge administered by the device occurs only if a fatal arrhythmia is detected, eliminating the need for the user to make the decision to defibrillate.

Beaumont researchers looked at 14,666 cardiac arrest cases in Michigan, of which 40 occurred at 39 golf courses from 2010-12. The heart attack cases involved mostly older males.

“Golf courses have players that are at risk for heart disease and sudden cardiac death, and golf courses should be prepared with AEDs,” Dr. Swor says.

While AED use was subpar, Beaumont researchers found that most patients in the study received bystander CPR, suggesting high levels of cardiac arrest awareness.

Some proactive approaches that golf courses could take are ready-access points for emergency providers, stickers on golf carts with emergency response instructions and CPR/AED fundraisers, the researchers say.

Since 2009, Beaumont has donated 18 AEDs to community centers, libraries, places of worship, and other locations in the community.

The study findings were presented at the National Association of EMS Physicians in January.