New research indicates whether you survive a cardiac arrest may depend on the kind of neighbourhood you live in.
In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers say if a neighbour comes to your rescue by giving you CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), your chances of living are much higher.
Neighbourhoods like Atlanta have an incidence of cardiac arrest two to three times higher than other parts of the county and fewer bystanders who attempt to perform CPR, and remained so year after year - possibly owing to lower median household incomes, more Black residents, and lower education levels.
"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," said Comilla Sasson, M.D., M.S., lead author of, "Small Area Variations in Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest: Does the Neighborhood Matter?" who conducted the study as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar at the University of Michigan. "Nine out of 10 people die from a cardiac arrest event. This number can and must change."
Boosting bystander CPR rates in the United States from the current average of 27 percent to 56 percent could save an additional 1,500 lives per year.
Because most incidences of cardiac arrest occur outside a hospital and are often witnessed by bystanders, efforts to improve survival should focus on the prompt delivery of medical interventions such as the delivery of CPR.
"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."
The study is published in the June issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.