The Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa (HSFSA), Philips South Africa and the Philips Foundation’s Back to Rhythm campaign culminates 2 days before World Health Day as it aims to help South Africans get access to emergency care under the theme of Universal Health Coverage (UHC).


The theme of the campaign is aligned with UHC which is part of a global mobilisation strategy to get governments to commit to providing adequate access to health which is often a problem in countries with high inequalities.

Getting Back to Rhythm (B2R)
This year, World Health Day focuses on ensuring that everyone can obtain the care they need, when they need it, hence #HealthForAll. The Back to Rhythm campaign set out to address heart health and preventable deaths from Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). Join us at Kyalami Race Course in Johannesburg to witness the grand finale of the cycling race and campaign conclusion.


What is Sudden Cardiac Arrest?
Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) often occurs as a result of a heart attack, when the heart is starved of oxygen. SCA is an electrical malfunction of the heart typically associated with an abnormal heart rhythm known as ventricular fibrillation (VF). It is a condition in which the heart’s electrical impulses suddenly become chaotic, causing the heart to quiver, rather than pump in a normal rhythm. Victims collapse and quickly lose consciousness, often without warning. Unless a normal heart rhythm is restored within minutes, survival is highly unlikely. The average survival rate of SCA outside the hospital is five percent.


Activation activities
Across the twelve activations, participants from the public needed to bike for 10-minutes at a time to complete a total of 4,400 kilometers – the distance required to create a digital heartbeat from Cape Town to Johannesburg and back. The plan is to make the Guiness World Book of Records. For every 367 km cycled at every location, Philips SA and the Philips Foundation has donated one HeartStart Automated External Defibrillator (AED) to the HSFSA.


What is an Automated External Defibrillator (AED)?
An AED is a small, compact device used to analyse a person’s heart rhythm for any abnormalities and, if necessary, directs the user to deliver an electric shock to the victim of SCA. Defibrillators treat the most common result of sudden cardiac arrest, ventricular fibrillation, which is an electrical malfunction of the heart that causes it to beat erratically rather than pump in a normal rhythm. Fewer than five percent of sudden cardiac arrest victims survive, largely because defibrillators do not get to them in time.  For each minute that passes before defibrillation therapy reaches a victim, the chance for survival decreases by about 10 percent.  After 10 minutes, few attempts at resuscitation are successful.  Having an AED immediately available and people trained to use it, helps to ensure more lives could be saved. The main difference between AED’s and manually operated defibrillators often used by medical professionals is that AED’s are designed for use by people who may not have the extensive training required to use a manual defibrillator


Winning the Heart of the Nation
The Heart and Stroke Foundation SA is proud to announce the kilometre cycle target has been reached through the activations in Gauteng and the Western Cape. The public has supported the initiative by participating in the stationary cycle and have received important CPR training and other demonstrations up until the end of March. The Back to Rhythm campaign culminates 2 days before World Health Day and is concluded with a semi-professional relay cycle team as well as some Philips SA staff members undertaking a cycle journey from Cape Town on Sunday, 31 March and ending off on the Kyalami Race Course, Johannesburg between 6pm – 8pm on 5 April 2019 for the finale.


“We will be strategically placing the 25 donated HeartStart AED machines within the communities across South Africa to equip the public with lifesaving capabilities” says the CEO of the HSFSA, Professor Pamela Naidoo. “We value the partnership and commitment from the Philips Foundation in embracing the World Health Day theme set by the World Health Organisation” continued Professor Naidoo.


Heart disease figures indicative of how much South Africa needs to get Back to Rhythm

  • More South Africans die from Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) than all types of cancers combined.[1]
  • In South Africa five people suffer a heart attack every hour1, contributing to 17.3 million annual deaths related to heart disease globally – a number that is expected to grow by more than 36% by 2030[2].
  • Through crowd participation in the campaign, the Philips Foundation pledges to donate up to 25 automated external defibrillators (AEDs) to the HSFSA, to equip the public with lifesaving technology.


[1] Stats Reference Document

[2] Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics at a Glance

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