Cardiac Arrest in your Future? Consider Moving House

A study is reported in the New England Journal of Medicine this week, and the message is simple. If you have a cardiac arrest and need bystander CPR, you’re more likely to get it in high-income, white (and/or ‘integrated’) neighbourhoods. Is it time to move house? Or do we just need better targeted training courses?

What Did they Study?

Data from the US cardiac arrest registry, 2005-2009 covering 14,225 patients who had a cardiac arrest. (Everyone who has a cardiac arrest needs CPR)

Neighbourhoods were broken into high and low-income using $40,000/household/year income as the cut-off. They were also classified as ‘white’ or ‘black’ neighbourhoods if more than 80% of the population identified themselves this way. If not, the neighbourhood was ‘mixed’.

raining money


  • On average you have a 28.6% chance of getting bystander CPR if you have a cardiac arrest.
  • If the neighbourhood is identified as low-income, black. The chance of getting bystander CPR after cardiac arrest is around 20%
  • Low-income white, and high income black neighbourhoods give you an approx 30% chance of getting bystander CPR
  • High-income white neighbourhoods seem to give you about 35% chance of getting bystander CPR.
  • Out of all patients studied, approx 8% survive to leave the hospital afterwards.


broken heart

The graphs were difficult to read! Results quoted are my approximation from the data given.

The authors suggest that high-income areas have populations which are more educated and so more likely to have the skills needed.

It may be that targeting areas where CPR is less likely to be performed will improve public health outcomes.

However the survival rate in this study was higher than reported before in other places.

The authors specifically pick ‘race’ as an indicator of whether you may get CPR when needed, but black vs. white may be too simple. They also make no comment about the respective races of the victims vs. rescuers. Presumably this isn’t recorded in the data they were reviewing.

The study builds on those which have just looked at income or race alone, but there’s still much more research to be done when looking at barriers to performing CPR.

If you want the best chance of getting bystander CPR after a cardiac arrest (and surviving!) then make sure those around you are trained – family, friends, neighbours, colleagues at work. And yes, we do offer mobile training at your house/work-site/club/gym/school/everywhere. Just send us an eMail!


Association of Neighbourhood Characteristics with Bystander-initiated CPR: 2012 New Eng J Med


About Tony Howarth

Tony is a First Aid & CPR Instructor Trainer with Sea 2 Sky Safety Training Services and the company founder. Tony started with the British Red Cross in 1994. Has acted as first aid attendant for hundreds of events & treated many hundreds of people as a result. He is experienced in training a wide range of courses. He previously worked as an ambulance attendant with the British Red Cross. He is now in BC as a first aid instructor, and an instructor trainer (one who trains others to become instructors) Finally, Tony works at Squamish General Hospital as the pharmacist manager when not busy training safety
This entry was posted in CPR, News, research and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Cardiac Arrest in your Future? Consider Moving House

  1. Dr. Pullen says:

    Now with hands only CPR, it is easier than ever to give bystander CPR. Check out Dr Pullen’s post

    • Tony Howarth says:

      Agreed – and interesting to speculate why there might be better outcomes. The hands-only approach is also now used in the UK, but (for now) breaths and compressions together remain the standard of practice here in Canada.

Go on.... say something smart:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s