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People who live in wealthy neighborhoods are more likely to try to save someone having a heart attack using CPR, compared to those in poorer areas, say researchers.
The findings, which appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine, are based on 14,225 cases of cardiac arrest from 29 urban areas in the U.S.
Study coauthor Comilla Sasson, from the University of Colorado, said: 'Where you drop literally can determine your likelihood of having someone stop and do CPR, and it changes from one side of the street to the other.'
About 300,000 people collapse from a heart attack in the U.S each year, and other research has suggested that ethnic or socioeconomic conditions influence the chance that a bystander will start CPR.
Using census data, the researchers separated the sites of each collapse into two categories: high income, where the median household income was £25,000 ($40,000) or more, and low income.
A neighborhood was given an ethnic classification if one group made up more than 80 per cent of the population.
The overall chance of a cardiac arrest victim getting CPR from a bystander was about 29 per cent.
But if a bystander is available to help when a person collapses in a primarily-white higher income neighborhood, their chance of getting CPR is 55 per cent, Sasson said.
In a high-income integrated neighborhood that chance was 49 per cent, and it was 45 per cent in a high-income black neighborhood.
'If that person crosses the street and goes into an African-American poor neighborhood, the percentage goes down to 35 per cent,' Sasson said.
Although the racial makeup of the neighborhood was a factor, 'it's probably socioeconomic status that matters more than racial composition,' she added.
Information from focus groups suggests that one reason the rate may be lower in poorer neighborhoods is the cost of CPR training.
'Once the barriers to CPR training and performance are better understood, it may be possible to design more linguistically appropriate and culturally sensitive CPR training programs that can be implemented in neighborhoods with low rates of bystander-initiated CPR,' the team said.
The study did not examine if a neighborhood's characteristics affect a person's chance of surviving cardiac arrest. In this study, only eight per cent of the patients survived to be discharged from the hospital, and about half had some kind of brain damage.