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Paul Cowling and Community Resuscitation Officer Ricky Lawrence

Almost a third of Londoners who suffer a cardiac arrest where their heart can be shocked back to life are surviving – the highest rate since records began.

A total of 187 out of 578 patients – 32.4 per cent – were discharged alive from hospital in 2013/14, up from 28.4 per cent the previous year. This is the best since survival data was first logged 15 years ago.

The figures were released today by the London Ambulance Service as it praised the 1,967 bystanders who attempted cardiopulmonary resuscitation – known as CPR, or chest compressions – on victims as they waited for emergency crews to arrive.

It linked the improved survival rates to the increased availability of electronic defibrillators. They can be found at more than 2,000 sites including Tube stations and department stores. See below for a video of paramedic Pete Fisher helped save footballer Fabrice Muamba’s life:

LAS medical director Fionna Moore said: “Not only are our staff doing an excellent job resuscitating and stabilising patients, but the public are helping to save lives on the streets of London too. We’ve seen more bystanders than ever before providing basic life support to cardiac arrest patients.

“Chances of survival increase considerably when CPR is carried out and it’s great news that more people are willing to get involved and help in this way.”

One survivor, Paul Cowling, 25, from Stockwell, (pictured above), was shocked 15 times in 75 minutes with a defibrillator after collapsing while playing football on Tooting Common last November.

He visited ambulance HQ yesterday to receive CPR training from community resuscitation officer Ricky Lawrence.

The 187 survivors were part of a sub-group of patients who suffered a Utstein cardiac arrest. This is an internationally-recognised measure used for patients whose arrest happens out of hospital, is witnessed by a passer-by and where resuscitation is possible with a defibrillator due to the heart being in a “shockable” rhythm.

The total number of cardiac arrest survivors in London last year was 436 out of 4,239 patients – 10.3 per cent, up from 9.3 per cent the previous year.

Some 77.7 per cent of cardiac arrests happened in the home. They are most common on Monday mornings, with men twice as likely as women to be affected.

A cardiac arrest is when the heart stops pumping blood around the body. This is different to a heart attack, which is when an artery becomes obstructed, restricting the flow of blood to the heart.