Putting our hearts into it

If has partnered with the Swedish Heart-Lung Association and Philips to get more defibrillators in residential areas, where most sudden cardiac arrests occur. This is a partnership that will save lives, one heart at a time.

Imagine that you’re in your local neighbourhood, waiting for the bus. Suddenly the person next to you collapses. You realise that his heart has stopped, and you need to find a defibrillator, fast. You must bring it back within five minutes. Would you know in which direction to run?

Low survival rate

Around 10,000 such out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrests occur in Sweden each year. Most are fatal – only about 6 per cent survive.

A cardiac arrest can happen to anyone, regardless of age or fitness. Many will remember when Danish professional footballer Christian Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest during a match at the European Championships in 2021, 29 years old and in prime health. The player was gone for five minutes, but he survived because there was a medical team standing by, who were ready to give CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and had access to a defibrillator.

In most cases, there is no defibrillator available. In order to have the best chance of saving the life of someone whose heart has stopped, it is essential to start CPR right away, but also to use a defibrillator to produce an electric shock to restart the heart within five minutes. The average response time for an ambulance in Sweden is 11 minutes. That is not fast enough.

Most defibrillators are at places of work

In Sweden, there are quite a few defibrillators, but most are at places of work, where they are only available during office hours. Most cardiac arrests occur at home, but in residential neighborhoods, defibrillators are few and far between.

In order to save lives, more defibrillators need to be available where people live. If has therefore joined forces with the Swedish Heart-Lung Association and the health-tech company Philips in order to increase the number of defibrillators in residential areas, and to raise awareness of the importance of CPR and defibrillators in order to save lives.

– As an insurance company, we have a unique role in the healthcare system. Whilst you won’t register on the public healthcare system’s radar until you’re sick or have been in an accident, we have a shared incentive with the customer to keep him or her healthy. We are interested in preventive measures. One such measure is to make sure defibrillators are available in the areas where people actually live, says Kristina Ström Olsson, If’s Nordic health strategist.

Purchase the heart starter before someone needs it

The partnership has set up a platform where anyone can initiate a crowdfunding project in his or her own neighborhood. Successful projects are supplied with a Philips FRx defibrillator, a heated outdoor cabinet, and a five-year service agreement and insurance.

If the defibrillator is stolen or vandalised, it will be replaced without incurring a deductible.

Philips FRx defibrillator with heated outdoor cabinet.

– Defibrillators are expensive and must be purchased before they are needed. With a heated outdoor cabinet and a five-year service agreement and insurance, it costs over SEK 30 000. To help more initiatives to reach their goal, we decided to cover the remainder of the cost for every project that reached SEK 20 000 during 2022, explains Kristina Ström Olsson.

The platform was launched in September 2022, and by the end of the year more than SEK 600 000 had been raised from 1 300 donors – ordinary people joining together to make their neighbourhoods safer, and to help each other.

Defibrillators have been made available in Swedish communities in Öckerö, Hölö, Älvsjö, Örebro and Degerfors, to mention a few of the examples of successful crowdfunding initiatives. Most reached their goals with the help of funding from If.