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People who live in poorer areas may be at more risk for sudden cardiac arrest

September 13, 2011|By Jeannine Stein, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
  • People who live in poorer neighborhoods may be more at risk for sudden cardiac arrest.
People who live in poorer neighborhoods may be more at risk for sudden cardiac… (Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles…)

Living in a poorer neighborhood might put people at greater risk for having a sudden cardiac arrest, a study finds.

Researchers analyzed data on sudden cardiac arrests over one year among 9,235 people in four U.S. cities and three in Canada. They also looked at median household incomes from census tracts to determine the relationship between the arrests and socioeconomic status.

In six of the seven cities, the frequency of sudden cardiac arrests was substantially greater in the lowest socioeconomic areas compared with the highest. In all cities combined, the rate of sudden cardiac arrest in the lowest socioeconomic neighborhoods was nearly twice that compared with the highest.

In all cities the trend was seen more among people under 65 years of age, and it was higher in the U.S. than in Canada. The disparity between countries, the study authors say, may be due to Canada's universal healthcare. "In the United States," they wrote, "uninsured people less than 65 may have more undiagnosed cardiovascular disease or they may not seek care to manage risk factors for cardiovascular disease or to manage established heart disease." That, they add, could heighten the risk for sudden cardiac arrest.

What may be needed, the authors said, are interventions to help people lower their risk factors for cardiovascular disease, as well as providing training for cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

The study was released this week in the Canadian Medical Assn. Journal.

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