A study published by the Canadian Medical Association Journal concluded that people who live in the lower floors of high-rise buildings have better chances of surviving from cardiac arrests, when comparing them to people who live above the 16th floor. The hypothesis could be related to the time that takes 911 emergency services to reach higher floors.

It was explained by researchers that just a few seconds can define the survival of people who have a cardiac arrest, because once the heart changes its rhythm and it stops pumping blood, it can be hard to control it.

A doctor applying CPR to a person suffering a cardiac arrest. Photo: MedScape
A doctor applying CPR to a person suffering a cardiac arrest. Photo: MedScape

“As the number of high-rise buildings continues to increase and as population density rises in major urban centres, it is important to determine the effect of delays to patient care in high-rise buildings on survival after cardiac arrest,” writes Ian Drennan, a paramedic with York Region Paramedic Services and a researcher with Rescu, Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.

According to a report from the American Heart Association, heart disease is the first cause of death, with more than 17.3 million deaths registered in the world. Just in the U.S., the Center for Disease and Control Prevention reported that 610,000 people die of heart disease every year, which can be translated as 1 in every 4 deaths in the country.

Researchers analyzed data from 7,842 people who lived in private residences and received help after making a call to 911. Just 4.2 percent of the 5,998 who lived in the first three floors survived, on the other hand, the number was lower for people who lived above the third floor, reaching 2.6 percent.

Results would appear to show that the average time that takes a 911 responder to get to a residential building is 6 minutes, in comparison, it took them approximately three minutes to reach a patient who lived on the first two floors.

What researchers proposed is that residents should develop plans considering emergency entrances, they also added that it helps when some people in the building is trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, the technique that is most used for heart arrests. That being said, people who live in higher floors should not be worried about the findings, since the results are not conclusive.

If people witness that someone is getting a cardiac arrest, they should immediately call 911 and try to follow CPR guidelines or get a automated external defibrillator.

Source: Canadian Medical Association Journal