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Surviving Cardiac Arrest Depends on Your Location

Study found death rate up to three times higher in poorer neighborhoods

TUESDAY, June 1 (HealthDay News) -- A person's chances of surviving a cardiac arrest depend largely on the neighborhood in which they collapse, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that people who suffer from cardiac arrest in some neighborhoods of Fulton County in Georgia -- which is home to the city of Atlanta -- are up to three times more likely to die than in other neighborhoods. They're also less likely to have bystanders perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on them.

The neighborhoods with the highest cardiac arrest death rates tended to be poorer and less educated, with more black residents, the study authors noted in their report in the June issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

"These findings have national public health indications. They show that it is time to change our thinking on how and where we conduct CPR training if we are ever going to change the dismal rate of survival from cardiac arrest," study author Dr. Comilla Sasson, who conducted the research at the University of Michigan, said in a news release. "Nine out of 10 people die from a cardiac arrest event."

The researchers estimated that 15 lives could be saved in Fulton County each year if the neighborhoods with the lowest rates of CPR had the same rates as those neighborhoods with the highest.

"To improve cardiac survival rates that have been stagnant for 30 years, CPR training should be more basic and available to the people who are most likely to witness someone experiencing cardiac arrest," Sasson said. "Health care resources are extremely limited. To make improvements, we need to understand where and how best to make change."

More information

The University of Washington School of Medicine has more about CPR.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars, news release, May 31, 2010

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