January 18, 2016

Living in highrise buildings associated with lower survival rates from cardiac arrests

The number of people living in highrise buildings in rising, but along with the convenience and panoramic views of a downtown condo comes a risk: a new study found that survival rates from cardiac arrest decrease the higher up the building a person lives.

“Cardiac arrests that occur in highrise buildings pose unique barriers for 911-initiated first responders,” said Ian Drennan, lead author of the study published today in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

“Building access issues, elevator delays and extended distance from the emergency vehicle to the patient can all contribute to longer times for 911-initiated first responders to reach the patient and start time-sensitive, potentially life-saving resuscitation,” he said.

Drennan is a paramedic with York Region Paramedic Services and a researcher with Rescu, a group based at St. Michael’s Hospital that studies emergency health care that begins outside of a hospital.

Looking at data from 8,216 adults who suffered an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest treated by 911-initiated first responders in the City of Toronto and nearby Peel Region from January 2007 to December 2012, they found 3.8 per cent survived until they could be discharged from a hospital. Survival was 4.2 per cent for people living below the third floor and 2.6 per cent for people living on or above the third floor.

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