High street dentists gear up to aid heart attack victims

Lifesaving defibrillators are to be installed in dental practices in Scotland to speed up access to care for heart attack victims.

The Scottish Government has awarded £55,000 to NHS Lothian to buy 52 of the machines, which restart the heart with electric shocks.

Quick action is vital after a cardiac arrest as the chances of survival decrease by 14% every minute.

Dentists and dental nurses will be trained in how to use them in a life-threatening emergency over the next three months.

Dental surgeries where patients can be sedated have defibrillators already, and the new ones will be placed in other general high street practices.

Brenda Cottam, the British Heart Foundation’s (BHF) community resuscitation co-ordinator in Scotland, said: ‘A defibrillator in an accessible dental practice could be lifesaving.

‘As many dental practices are located centrally in high streets, they have the potential to make a huge difference to someone suffering from cardiac arrest.’

Colwyn Jones, consultant in dental public health at NHS Lothian, said: ‘This means that anyone can receive access to these machines in the first few minutes after having suffered a heart attack, when the chances of survival are at their highest.

‘By placing them in NHS high street dental practices these defibrillators will be available to members of the general public in the vicinity, should the need arise.’

Public Health Minister Shona Robison said the results of the pilot scheme could see it extended across Scotland.

‘We will study the evaluation of this pilot scheme closely and if it is successful we will consider whether it could be introduced on a wider basis across Scotland,’ she said.

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