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People who live in penthouses at heart attack risk

It has long-been established, as the American Heart Association has reported, that more heart attacks happen in the home than away from home. It also stands, as the U.K. National health Service points out, most heart attacks occur in people aged over 45. What is new, however, is the finding that if your home is a highrise, then higher the floor you reside in, then the lower your chances of survival become.

This is based on data drawn from medical studies in Canada (Toronto specifically); based on information analyzed for the Canadian Medical Association by medics from St. Michael’s Hospital. Here researchers, as the Toronto Star notes, shifted through five years of health data relating to the City of Toronto and Peel Regions. These areas were pulled out due to the relatively high population densities. The research question framing the study was “Does vertical delay affect matters of life and death?”

In total 8,000 cases of cardiac arrest, occurring between 2006 and 2011, were studied. Each incidence was in a private residence of varying types (houses and highrises). The general trend was those who resided on the ground or second floor fared better, in terms of survival rates. For those living on the third floor or higher, the chance of survival reduced by almost 50 percent.

Most worrying of all, above the 16th floor the survival rate was “negligible,” with below one percent surviving a cardiac arrest. For those who lived in penthouses (typically on or above the 25th floor), none survived.

These reasons were simply due to the time and complexities associated with emergency services reaching people in time. Elevator delays were a common factor. The research recommended that each apartment or condo should have at least one defibrillator device on site.

The research is published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal . The paper is titled “Out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in high-rise buildings: delays to patient care and effect on survival.”

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