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Blacks Less Likely to Get Help on Scene After Cardiac Arrest: Study
Date:5/11/2012

FRIDAY, May 11 (HealthDay News) -- Black Americans who suffer cardiac arrest in public places are less likely than whites to receive CPR and treatment with automated external defibrillators, a new study has found.

Cardiac arrest occurs when an abnormal heart rhythm causes the heart to stop beating. CPR and automated external defibrillators (AEDs) -- devices that use electrical shocks to restore the heart to a normal rhythm -- can help a cardiac arrest victim survive until emergency medical crews arrive on the scene.

The study also found that black cardiac arrest patients' hearts were much less likely to have been restarted by the time they arrived at a hospital, which is an important indicator for whether cardiac arrest patients ultimately survive, said the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine researchers.

The researchers analyzed nearly 5,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrest cases that occurred in Philadelphia over four years, and found that 27 percent of black patients and 34 percent of white patients received an on-scene shock from an AED used by a bystander or medical first-responder. CPR was performed by bystanders on 5.6 percent of black patients and 7.5 percent of white patients.

The researchers also found that black patients were less likely than white patients to have regained their heartbeat before they arrived at a hospital (14.7 percent vs. 17.1 percent, respectively), and that black patients were less likely to have received important pre-hospital care measures that are a proven part of the cardiac arrest "chain of survival."

"Cardiac arrest is a time-sensitive illness that requires immediate action to keep blood flowing to the brain -- every minute without CPR and the application of shocks from an automated external defibrillator robs patients of a chance to fully recover," senior author Dr. Roger Band, assistant professor of emergency medicine, said in a university news release.

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