The number of people participating in physical activity especially older adults due to aging baby boomers is increasing.

Research at the National Institute on Aging indicates that including regular exercise and eating a healthy diet are essential components of a lifestyle that leads to longevity and reduces the risks of dementia, heart disease, obesity, and other chronic conditions. However, it also increases the risk of sudden cardiac arrest.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest and Automated External Defibrillator

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) differs from a heart attack, although a heart attack may lead to SCA.

A heart attack, or a myocardial infarction, is a blockage or loss of blood to the heart. Heart attacks are normally associated with people already suffering from heart disease, but the heart continues to beat.

SCA occurs when there is a malfunction in the heart’s electrical system causing an irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia. SCAs can happen anytime, without warning, and in individuals who have not had a prior diagnosis of heart disease.

AEDs are used to treat SCA by administering a shock in an attempt to restore a regular heartbeat.

Life Saving AED and Gyms

The potential for a sudden cardiac arrest rises as more people who may or may not already be at risk for heart disease engage in exercise at local gyms.Having an AED available increases their chance of survival.

In 2011, Dr. Page with the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health observed that for common activities performed at the time of SCA “those who had sudden cardiac arrest at fitness centers had a 50 percent rate of survival compared to victims at non-exercise facilities because of the prompt responses from bystanders through CPR and automated external defibrillator (AED) use”.

Heroic Rescue

All of this info is great, but we know that actions speak louder than words.

21-year old William Shannon, a membership services employee at Clarksville Athletic Club in Tennessee, saved a life last month even though he may acquiesce that “saving lives is not a standard part of his day-to-day routine at the 220 Athletic Avenue property."

On September 30th, Shannon was advised that a gym member was unconscious in the men's locker room. With the assistance of another ex-military member, the pair initiated life-saving CPR and AED.

There were a number of complications, but Shannon continued chest compressions even after the paramedics arrived, who stabilized the patient and transported him to the hospital.

Shannon, who used his AED for the first time that day, stated that in spite of how emotionally disturbed he was by the event and by the magnitude of what could have happened, training is essential, "Knowledge really is power in this situation. Something as simple as four hours on a Saturday can teach you to save a life."