From Our 2010 Archives
Cardiac Arrest Deaths Down, but Gap Persists
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Women, African-Americans Still More Likely to Die After Cardiac Arrest
Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD
April 13, 2010 (Toronto) -- More Americans are surviving cardiac arrest than did to two decades ago. But women are still more likely than men to die after cardiac arrest. And the risk of death continues to be higher for African-Americans than for other races.
"Death rates went down for both genders and all races," says researcher Richard Dubinsky, MD, professor of neurology at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan.
"But women and African-Americans had higher mortality rates throughout all 20 years," he says.
The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology.
Women More Likely to Die After Cardiac Arrest
Nearly 300,000 Americans a year go into sudden cardiac arrest, in which a person dies within minutes after an abrupt loss of heart function. The disorder is particularly devastating because it strikes without warning and at any age, Dubinsky says.
For the new analysis, the researchers looked at data on more than 500,000 Americans hospitalized for cardiac arrest between 1988 and 2007. The analysis included people who had cardiac arrest in and out of the hospital.
Among the findings:
Learn the Warning Signs of Cardiac Arrest
Although the study was not designed to look at why women and African-Americans might face poorer outlooks, Dubinsky says a variety of factors may be at play.
"They may not be as aware of the warning signs or it could be they don't have equal access to care," he says.
But Larry Goldstein, MD, professor of neurology at Duke University in Durham, N.C., warns against concluding women and African-Americans are dying because of inadequate care.
"There are many risk factors the researchers did not take into account, such as whether patients who suffer cardiac arrest outside the hospitals were alone or whether the attack was witnessed," he tells WebMD.
Dubinsky agrees further study is needed. But in the meantime, "we need to get the warning signs out there," he says.
Here are the signs:
SOURCES: American Academy of Neurology 62nd Annual Meeting, Toronto, April 10-17,