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Heart attack risk at football stadiums neglected

Too many football grounds do not have the right equipment and plans to save the lives of fans who have heart attacks, a study has found.

The poll of 187 stadiums found over a quarter did not have defibrillators and many did not have emergency plans.Heart attack risk at football stadiums neglectedThe Sweden led study, carried out by a group of club doctors, stressed more had to be done as it was not always easy to get ill fans to hospital.

Researchers said there should be mandatory rules covering the issue.

At the moment, it is simply considered good practice to have defibrillators at sports grounds.

But in recent years many governments – including the authorities in the UK – have been doing more to increase the availability of the life-saving equipment in public spaces.

Defibrillators work by delivering a controlled electric shock through the chest wall to the heart to restore a normal heartbeat.

Professor Mats Borjesson, the official medic for Swedish club GAIS and a member of the European Association of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation, said every ground should have access to a supply of the machines.

“It is known that viewing and being emotionally engaged in a soccer game increases the likelihood of people suffering a heart attack so we think this should be a formal requirement.”

He also warned facilities at sporting arenas elsewhere in the world may be even worse.

“As football is the biggest and best resourced sport in Europe, the situation may be even worse elsewhere.”

And he said it was important to have the proper procedures and planning in place too.

But only 64% had a written medical action plan, covering issues such as medical staffing and communications with hospital.

The study, published in the European Heart Journal, gathered data from 10 countries, including England, France and Spain.

It did not name the grounds that took part, although the researchers said most of them were from the top divisions, and over the previous season there had been 77 heart attacks – one for every 589,000 spectators at these stadiums.

The 37 English grounds that were included were among the better performers, the study showed.

Ellen Mason, of the British Heart Foundation, said it was important the issue was being highlighted.

“Early access to a defibrillator increases the chance of survival so it’s reassuring to know that so many stadiums in England had one.”

From: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/8546070.stm

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