02/06/2013 03:24 EST | Updated 04/08/2013 05:12 EDT

B.C. government, Heart Foundation to distribute 450 defibrillators

VANCOUVER - The B.C. government and the Heart and Stroke Foundation are each contributing $1 million to buy 450 defibrillators and distribute them around the province to help save the lives of people who suffer heart attacks.

The devices will be placed in community centres, arenas, recreation centres, sports centres and other public places where there's an increased risk of someone suffering cardiac arrest.

Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid says more than 2,000 people die in B.C. each year from a heart attack, and increased access to defibrillators can help save many of those lives.

Statistics show the survival rate of someone suffering a heart attack can be increased by 75 per cent if a defibrillator is used within five minutes.

The portable devices, known as automated external defibrillators, or AED's, can be used to deliver an electric shock to restart a heart if a person has a heart attack.

The AED is able to read the heart rhythm and only delivers a shock if needed.