Sudden cardiac arrest in commercial airports: Incidence, responses, and implications

Am J Emerg Med. 2022 Sep:59:118-120. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2022.07.006. Epub 2022 Jul 8.


Billions of travelers pass through airports around the world every year. Airports are a relatively common location for sudden cardiac arrest when compared with other public venues. An increased incidence of cardiac arrest in airports may be due to the large volume of movement, the stress of travel, or adverse effects related to the physiological environment of airplanes. Having said that, airports are associated with extremely high rates of witnessed arrests, bystander interventions (eg. CPR and AED use), shockable arrest rhythms, and survival to hospital discharge. Large numbers of people, a high density of public-access AEDs, and on-site emergency medical services (EMS) resources are probably the major reasons why cardiac arrest outcomes are so favorable at airports. The success of the chain of survival found at airports may imply that applying similar practices to other public venues will translate to improvements in cardiac arrest survival. Airports might, therefore, be one model of cardiac arrest preparedness that other public areas should emulate.

Keywords: Airports; Automated defibrillation; Bystander CPR; Cardiac arrest; Sudden death.

MeSH terms

  • Airports
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation*
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / epidemiology
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / etiology
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / prevention & control
  • Defibrillators
  • Electric Countershock
  • Emergency Medical Services*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest* / complications
  • Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest* / epidemiology
  • Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest* / therapy