Here’s Why Black People Are Less Likely To Survive Public Cardiac Arrests

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White individuals have a better chance of receiving CPR from a bystander than Black and Hispanic people, according to a recent study.

When having a cardiac arrest in a public place, Black and Hispanic people are 41 percent less likely to receive CPR from a bystander than their white counterparts, data from the Cardiac Arrest Registry Enhancing Survival (CARES) shows.

Almost 1,000 people have an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest every day, a 2019 American Heart Association report shows. Receiving CPR from a bystander before emergency medical services (EMS) arrive can almost triple the likelihood of survival.

More bystanders giving CPR to white people over people of color may directly link to the lower survival rates of Black and Hispanic people who experience a cardiac arrest outside of the hospital. 

The reasons behind this racial disparity haven't been fully investigated, but researchers say reduced CPR training rates in communities of color and racial bias could explain the difference.

According to Medical News Today, the cost of CPR training and limited access to training locations are obstacles preventing Black and Hispanic people from learning the life-saving mechanism. Black and Hispanic people may also hesitate to call 911 and perform dispatcher-assisted CPR out of fear of the police.

Dr. Paul Chan, the study's lead author, told Medical News Today, “Organizations [that] conduct CPR training to the lay public (American Heart Association and American Red Cross) will first need to make CPR training more accessible to low-income and non-white communities. He added, "This includes waiving training fees and conducting training in non-traditional settings (e.g., Black churches, Hispanic community centers)."

However, the study notes that the racial disparity isn’t affected by what neighborhood a Black or Hispanic individual lives in — the comparatively low numbers are the same across predominantly white areas, majority Black and Hispanic communities, and integrated neighborhoods.

Dr. Chan said to Medical News Today, “These findings raise questions about whether simply increasing CPR training in Black and Hispanic communities is sufficient, as Black and Hispanic individuals with a cardiac arrest in Black/Hispanic communities were still less likely to receive potentially life-saving CPR than white individuals in these communities."

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