Penn Study Finds Racial Disparities in Assistance for Heart Attack Victims

Researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have found that African Americans who have heart attacks are less likely to receive CPR from bystanders than Whites who have heart attacks.

“Cardiac arrest is a time-sensitive illness that requires immediate action to keep blood flowing to the brain — every minute without CPR and the application of shocks from an automated external defibrillator robs patients of a chance to fully recover,” said senior author Roger Band, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at the Penn medical school. “Our findings show troubling racial disparities in the use of these lifesaving measures, and they point to the need to do more to ensure that every patient has the best chance of surviving.”

The data shows that bystanders performed CPR on 5.6 percent of black patients, compared with 7.5 percent of white patients. Thirty four percent of white patients received a shock from an automated external defibrillator placed by a bystander or medical first-responder on the scene of their heart attack compared with 27 percent of black patients.

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