National Institute on Aging

A Significant Racial Difference in Who Receives CPR From Bystanders

Nearly 1,000 Americans suffer from cardiac arrest (when the heart suddenly stops beating) outside of the hospital each day, with most occurring at home. People who receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) immediately are two to three times more likely to survive with brain functioning intact compared to those who do not receive CPR immediately.

A new nationwide study presented at a recent convention of the American College of Cardiology found that Black and Hispanic individuals were 41 percent less likely than White individuals to receive CPR when suffering cardiac arrest in public and 26 percent less likely to receive CPR when the cardiac arrest occurred at home.

The researchers analyzed over 110,000 cardiac arrests that occurred in the U.S. between 2013-2019. All events included in the analysis occurred outside of a hospital setting but were witnessed by a bystander. Researchers found that when the cardiac arrest occurred in public, 46 percent of Black and Hispanic people received CPR compared with 60 percent of White people. At home, 39 percent of Black and Hispanic people received CPR compared with 47 percent of White people.

“It’s critically important to understand who gets bystander CPR for a cardiac arrest and how we can improve those rates,” said Paul S. Chan, professor of medicine at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine and the study’s senior author.”We found that bystander CPR rates are much higher in White communities compared with Black communities. A White person going into cardiac arrest in a community that was more than 50 percent Black and Hispanic was still more likely to get bystander CPR than a Black or Hispanic person in that community.”

The full study, “”Racial Minorities Are Less Likely to Receive CPR When They Need It: Bystanders Give CPR Significantly More Often When the Person Suffering Cardiac Arrest Is White,” may be accessed here.


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