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Blacks Less Likely to Receive CPR When Suffering from Heart Attack

African Americans who suffer from cardiac arrest in public places are less likely than whites to receive CPR. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania also shows that blacks are liable to go without treatment from automated external defibrillators—devices that use electrical shocks to restore the heart to a normal rhythm. AEDs and CPR can help a cardiac arrest victim survive until an emergency medical crew arrives on the scene.

The researchers analyzed nearly 5,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrest cases. The analysis uncovered that CPR was performed by bystanders on 5.6 percent of Black patients and 7.5 percent of whites. It has also been reported that the hearts of black cardiac arrest patients were much less likely to have been restarted by the time they arrived to the hospital. Restarting the heart organ is an important indicator for whether cardiac arrest patients ultimately survive.

Senior author Dr. Roger Band, assistant professor of emergency medicine, said in a university news release that “Cardiac arrest is a time-sensitive illness that requires immediate action… every minute without CPR and the application of shocks from an automated external defibrillator robs patients of a chance to fully recover.” Band concludes that the use of these basic lifesaving tools is far too low across all patient populations. Even a small increase in their use would translate into an increase in survival.

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