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Cardiac Arrest Outcomes are Worse for Top-Floor Residents, Study Finds

Update Date: Jan 20, 2016 11:31 AM EST

Despite having great views, living on the higher floors of a high-rise building is not always a good thing.

According to a new study headed by Ian Drennan, a paramedic with the York Region Paramedic Services in Canada, people who live on the top floors tend to have worse outcomes from cardiac arrest simply due to the fact that they receive medical care at a much slower rate than people who live on the lower floors would.

"It takes first responders longer to get to the patients who live on higher floors, so treatment is delayed," Drennan explained reported by HealthDay via "The delay of responders getting to higher floors meant there were fewer patients with shockable rhythms, which may explain why they had decreased survival."

Cardiac arrest occurs when heart function stops suddenly. To increase chances of survival, the heart must be restarted as soon as possible via a defibrillator. In this study, the team had looked at 7,842 people from Toronto, Canada, who lived in high-rise buildings and had suffered from a cardiac arrest between 2007 and 2012.

3.8 percent of the patients survived until they were healthy enough to be discharged from the hospital. When the team compared survival rates in people depending on what floor they lived on, they found that the survival rate for roughly 6,000 people living on the first or second floor was 4.2 percent. The rate calculated in the nearly 2,000 people who lived above the third floor was 2.6 percent.

The survival rate fell to one percent in people who lived above the 16th floor. In patients who lived on floors higher than the 25th, no one survived.

The researchers suggested that in order to prevent survival rates from dipping in people who live on higher floors, high rise buildings should have clear plans and protocols for emergency responders. The team added that having some residents trained in CPR and having defibrillators ready would also be beneficial.

"Having some kind of response plan will minimize avoidable delays," Drennan said.

The study was published in CMAJ.

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