Skip to Content

  • Photo of the American Heart Association HEARTSafe logo for Michigan.

Partnering Together for HEARTSafe Communities

In an effort to increase survival from Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA), MyMichigan Health is partnering with the American Heart Association, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, SaveMiHeart, the University of Michigan, and other organizations to help local communities become HEARTSafe.

About Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Sudden Cardiac Arrest is a condition in which the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating. It can happen anywhere, at any time and to anyone. SCA usually causes death unless a number of interventions take place immediately, including calling 9-1-1, beginning Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), and administering early defibrillation. An Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is a medical device that analyzes the heart’s rhythm and if necessary, delivers an electrical shock to help re-establish an effective rhythm. Use of an AED can more than double a victim’s chances of survival. A recent study found that after public health initiatives, like HEARTSafe, individuals who received bystander CPR and early defibrillation, were more likely to survive.

More than 350,000 people in the United States suffer cardiac arrest each year. The majority of these out of hospital cardiac arrests occur at home. Nationally, less than one in 10 people survive an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest and are discharged from the hospital and only 8.9 percent of victims survive with good neurologic function. In Michigan, we lag behind the average. Overall survival from out of hospital cardiac arrest in our state is at 8.8 percent, and only 7.1 percent of victims survive with good neurologic function.

SCA is not the same as a heart attack. A heart attack occurs if blood flow to part of the heart muscle is blocked. During a heart attack, the heart usually does not suddenly stop beating; however, SCA may happen during a heart attack or following recovery from a heart attack.

There are many causes of SCA including coronary heart disease, physical stress and some inherited disorders. SCA can happen in people of all ages who appear healthy and have no known heart disease. SCA may also occur with no known cause.

HEARTSafe Designation

The HEARTSafe designation specifically recognizes a community's efforts to prepare its responders and citizens to recognize when someone suffers a sudden cardiac arrest and to know how to respond. Areas of focus include increasing public awareness of sudden cardiac arrest, increasing public and first responder access to automated external defibrillators (also known as AEDs), and encouraging bystander intervention. The steps included in bystander intervention include calling 911, locating an AED if one is readily available, and placing the heel of your palm in the center of the victim’s chest and pumping hard and fast for approximately two pumps per second. The overall goal of the HEARTSafe Communities Program is to enhance community partnerships, resources and services to improve cardiovascular health and decrease deaths due to cardiovascular-related events – including sudden cardiac arrest, heart attack and stroke.

Become a HEARTSafe Community

Any municipality, county or organization in Michigan can apply for the HEARTSafe Designation from the Michigan Department of Health, the American Heart Association and SaveMiHeart.