A CQUniversity-led Australian-first study into the incidence of sudden cardiac arrest at sporting facilities has shown that facility operators need to revise their emergency plan and ensure appropriate staff cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and automated external defibrillator (AED) training is in place.

CQUni risk management expert Dr Betul Sekendiz collected the data from the Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) into the incidence of “bystander emergency management” at exercise and sport facilities.

Dr Betul Sekendiz, recently presented the findings of this research at the European Resuscitation Council (ERC) Conference from 20-23 September in Bologna, Italy.

“Exercise and sport facilities contribute to the preventive health policy of the governments by helping people to be more physically active. However vigorous exercise can be a trigger for sudden cardiac arrest in people with known or hidden cardiovascular conditions,” Dr Sekendiz said. “Early recognition, quality bystander CPR and use of an AED are the key for the survival of sudden cardiac arrest patients.”

Of the data collected over an eight-year period (2007-2015) Dr Sekendiz found that 250 of 5175 (or 4.8 per cent) out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest cases occurred at exercise and sport facilities. Most of the cases involved male patients, aged over 65 years.

She found that the sites with the highest incidence of sudden cardiac arrest included golf clubs, health/fitness facilities, licensed sports clubs, lawn bowls clubs and tennis clubs.

“On arrival at 75.6 per cent of the facilities bystander CPR was being undertaken, however only 38 per cent of the bystanders were applying effective CPR,” she said. “Only at 12.4 per cent of the facilities were both CPR and AED and at 24.4 per cent of the facilities, the bystanders neither applied CPR or AED to any of the patients.”

The findings showed that after the arrival of paramedics and the administering of treatment only 38.8 per cent of patients improved.

Logistic regression modelling showed that effective CPR was 1.9 times a better predictor for improved out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest patient outcomes at exercise and sports facilities.

Dr Sekendiz said the findings also revealed that sports traditionally known to be low/moderate intensity are higher risk sites for sudden cardiac arrest.

“This can be due to an ageing population with various cardiac health risk factors, who prefer to play such sports as a recreational activity because they consider it to be safe. As a result, the age of the bystanders can also have an impact on the quality of their chest compressions,” she said. “This study has implications for exercise and sport facility operators to revise their emergency plans and procedures, and to ensure they have staff currently trained in CPR and utilise an AED to be capable of properly responding to an unexpected cardiac emergency situation.”


The links to the abstracts published in the journal Resuscitation can be accessed at: