Living in high-rise buildings can affect heart attack survival rates, says study

Having a heart attack in a high-rise building could dramatically affect the chance of survival, a new study suggests. The study, published on Monday in the Medical Association Journal, analyzed data from nearly 8,000 heart attacks that occurred in private homes in Southern Ontario. The researchers, based at Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital, found that people who had a heart attack below the third floor of a building were more likely to survive than those who lived on the third floor or above.
The findings are concerning, particularly as the number of people who are living in high-rise buildings continues to climb. Nearly half of seniors – who are at an increased risk of suffering an age-related heart attack – live in high-rises, according to the study.
The researchers say the unique challenges of high-rise living – such as a delay waiting for an elevator – could contribute to the poorer outcomes among those living on higher floors. For instance, the time between the 911 call and the arrival of paramedics for people who had a heart attack below the third floor of a house or building was slightly faster than those who lived on upper floors. Furthermore, those who lived on higher floors were less likely to have a shockable rhythm when paramedics arrived.
“In a city where smartphones are ubiquitous, use of this technology has the potential to link first responders to cardiac arrest victims and to automated external defibrillators in high-rise apartment buildings,” wrote Desmond Mao of the department of emergency medicine at Hospital .