Europe's top football venues not prepared for treating spectators who suffer heart attacks

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Washington, March 3 (ANI): A new study has determined that many major sports arenas in Europe do not have adequate equipment and procedures in place to save the lives of spectators who suffer heart attacks while watching a sporting event.

The study, of 187 top sports arenas in ten European countries, used by 190 elite soccer clubs, found that more than a quarter did not have automated external defibrillators on site and even more did not have medical action plans or basic or advanced cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training programmes.

During the period that was studied, the 2005-6 season, no players or officials suffered a heart attack, but there were 77 heart attacks among the spectators, an estimated incidence of about one in 589,000 spectators.

According to Mats Borjesson, associate professor of cardiology at Sahlgrenska Academy, Sweden, and chairman of the sports cardiology section of the European Association of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation (EACPR), "Our study shows that many of these sports arenas are not adequately prepared to deal effectively with heart attacks among the spectators."

"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," he said.

"When you consider that our study was looking at what was probably the best-case scenarios - top clubs, with good resources it would appear that the inadequate arrangements are due to a lack of attention being paid to safety procedures, rather than because of financial constraints," he explained.

"At present, there are no formal recommendations about cardiovascular safety procedures at sports arenas in Europe and there still appears to be a lack of knowledge in the non-medical part of the sport. Both education and recommendations in this regard are needed," he said.

For the study, the researchers distributed a 12-question survey via members of the EACPR sports cardiology section who were from the ten countries participating in the study.

From the survey information, the researchers estimated that there was a total of at least 45 million spectators during the study season and they estimated the incidence of sudden cardiac arrests as one in 589,000 spectators.

"Our study confirms that spectators, in addition to the athletes, need adequate emergency medical procedures in place and, indeed, they could represent the primary target for cardiovascular safety programmes in sports arenas, because they outnumber the players," said Professor Borjesson. (ANI)

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