African Americans who suffercardiac arrest in public places are less likely than whites to get on-the-sceneCPR or defibrillator treatment, according to a study to be presented this monthat the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine annual meeting and reported by HealthDay News

Cardiac arrest occurs when anabnormal heart rhythm causes the heart to stop beating. CPR and automated externaldefibrillators or AEDs (devices that use electrical shocks to get the heartback to a normal rhythm) can help victims survive until medical crews arrive.But blacks are less likely to receive this care.  

For the study, researchers at theUniversity of Pennsylvania examined nearly 5,000 Philadelphia cardiac arrestcases that occurred during a four-year period. Findings showed 27 percent ofblack patients received an on-scene shock from an AED used by a bystander or anemergency medic as compared with 34 percent of white patients. CPR wasperformed on 5.6 percent of black patients compared with 7.5 percent of whitepatients.  

What’s more, researchers also foundthat black cardiac arrest patients’ hearts were much less likely to have beenrestarted by the time they arrived at the hospital, a key to whether patientssurvived.  

“Cardiac arrest is a time-sensitiveillness that requires immediate action to keep blood flowing to the brain. Everyminute without CPR and the application of shocks from an automated externaldefibrillator robs patients of a chance to fully recover,” said Roger Band, MD,an assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of PennsylvaniaSchool of Medicine, and senior study author. “Our findings show troublingracial disparities in the use of these lifesaving measures, and they point tothe need to do more to ensure that every patient has the best chance ofsurviving.”  

Researchers want the public to knowthat CPR and AEDS are the two interventions that have the greatest effect onsurvival rates and every individual should know how to use them.  

Band added that even smallincreases in the use of these interventions would translate into verysignificant increases in survival rates of people who suffer cardiac arrests inpublic places.  

Did you know that surviving cardiacarrest also depends on what neighborhood you’re in? Click here to learn more.