My second post is a continuation of my story and my awakening to the problem of Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA).
To recap, my dad, Sterling Dixon, had just passed away from SCA on his 63rd birthday. The weeks after my dad’s passing were a whirlwind of emotion. The Sunday following my dad’s passing, my wife surprised me with a pregnancy test. We didn’t know it at the time, but we would soon welcome our first baby girl into our family! Then came the funeral and the flowers and the notes and the hugs and tears. A month later, we would head to Brazil, and I would begin running a 20 location Tex-Mex restaurant chain called Sí Señor. From one month to the next, we found ourselves living in another hemisphere, with a baby on the way and new job, speaking Portuguese and emersed in all things Brazil. We traded in our beloved mountains and deserts for beaches and tropical storms.
It was in Brazil that I decided to take my first steps to understand my personal heart health. I did this for my wife and my family. I met with a doctor, and he checked my heart and then ordered a series of tests including an exercise stress test and an overnight sleep test. Since then, I have had additional tests including echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart) and electrocardiogram (non-invasive heart monitoring test to measure electrical activity). I will return to the importance of these tests in the next blog post.
However, it wasn’t until I returned to the US to raise a single-purpose investment fund to find and acquire a healthy business to run (i.e., search fund) that I really started grasping the scale of Sudden Cardiac Arrest in the US. I was introduced to Boise-based RescueStat (formerly Stat PADS) by a few colleagues and loved the business from day one. I have analyzed many companies, but this business had something special. It existed to do more than make money, it existed to “save more lives.” I acquired the business and joined as the CEO in July 2019. Since then, I have had the privilege of continuing my awakening and learning journey. Here are a few stats to chew on. Please sit down if you’re standing.
Key Stats on Scale:
- Heart Disease is the leading cause of death and accounts for 1 in every 5 deaths or 697,000 deaths or 1 death every 34 seconds. (CDC.gov)
- SCA is classified as a subsegment of heart disease and accounts for over half of those deaths. Sudden Cardiac Arrest and a heart attack are not the same thing. SCA is an electrical problem whereas a heart attack is a circulation problem. (Heart.org)
- Each year in the US, SCA kills more than 356,000 outside of hospital settings. That is nearly 1,000 people each day, or about 10% of all of the total deaths in America (sca-aware.org). This includes healthy individuals, including young student athletes. As many as 23,000 minors die each year (estimate from ParentHeartWatch.org)
- That is more than the equivalent of 23 Empire State Buildings, 1,500 airplane crashes or the entire city of Detroit, Portland or Las Vegas, or half of DC or Boston, each year
- That’s more than the annual number of colon cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, pneumonia, influenza, firearm, auto accident, HIV, and house fire deaths – COMBINED! (CDC.gov)
- That’s worth reading again if your jaw didn’t just drop to the floor
Key Stat on Survival:
- Less than 10% of victims survive and 90% die before making it to a hospital (sca-aware.org)
I started my career in finance and investing so I often think in terms of formulas and logic. As I pondered the key stats, I discovered a frightening story that is easily expressed in a formula that I call the “Cardiac Arrest Formula of Disaster.”
For every minute that passes, a person’s chance of survival decreases by 10%. The average EMS response time is between 7 and 14 minutes, depending on if you live in an urban or rural area. This means that by the time a defibrillator shows up, assuming everything goes right, your loved one has a 30% chance of survival. No wonder the average survival rate is less than 10%.
Survival Rate = 100% – (10% x minutes to first shock) = Houston, we have a problem.…or a solution?
The key variable is the minutes to first shock. This is the problem but also the solution and it’s hidden in plain sight. At RescueStat we have studied this simple formula and our ability to make an impact in saving lives. Through diligent effort and innovation, we have been able to attain a survival rate of 70% versus the current survival rate of less than 10%. In the process, we have also discovered how to do this in a way that reduces risk to organizations. These learnings have defined our new mission that is propelling us forward: To Save Lives and Protect Organizations from Sudden Cardiac Arrest.
This leads me to my next blog post…how to save a life and protect your organization.