Michigan Heart Safe Communities Program

Heart Safe Communities

Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) 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 1 in 10 people survive an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest and are discharged from the hospital and only 8.9% 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%, and only 7.1% of victims survive with good neurologic function. In Detroit, overall survival is 6.3% with only 3.5% surviving with good neurological 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. 

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the American Heart Association, SaveMiHeart, University of Michigan, Wayne State University and others have partnered to promote HEARTSafe Communities, an effort to increase survival from SCA by helping communities improve their system of care.

HEARTSafe Communities support the “Chain of Survival”

  • Increase public awareness of SCA and encourage bystander intervention (call 911, begin CPR, push hard and fast, and use of an AED)
  • Increase the publics access to defibrillators (AEDs) and all public safety and first responders (police, fire, EMS) to also have rapid access to AEDs
  • Emergency Medical Dispatch with pre-arrival CPR instruction for bystanders
  • Widespread CPR instruction and high-performance CPR
  • Supportive cardiac preventive care and support for survivors and families
  • Collect and analyze data on out of hospital cardiac arrest utilizing the CARES™ registry

HEARTSafe Designation

HEARTSafe Designation recognizes a community's efforts to prepare responders and citizens to recognize when someone suffers a sudden cardiac arrest and how to respond. 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.

View the list of Michigan's communities that have achieved HEARTSafe Designation.

Heart Safe Partners

  • Michigan Department of Health and Human Services
  • American Heart Association - Michigan
  • SaveMIHeart
  • University of Michigan
  • Wayne State University
  • Beaumont Health
  • Emergent Health Partners
  • MedStar EMS
  • Mid Michigan Health