Senior author Dr. Roger Band of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and colleagues found black patients' hearts were much less likely to have been restarted by the time they arrived at a hospital -- a key indicator of whether cardiac arrest victims ultimately survive.
The study involved 4,909 adult out-of-hospital cardiac arrest cases that occurred between January 2008 and February 2012 in Philadelphia, using data from the Philadelphia Fire Department.
Thirty-four percent of white patients received a shock from an automated external defibrillator placed by a bystander or medical first-responder on the scene of their arrest, compared with 27 percent of black patients. Bystanders performed CPR on 5.6 percent of black patients, compared with 7.5 percent of white patients, Band said.
"Cardiac arrest is a time-sensitive illness that requires immediate action to keep blood flowing to the brain," Band said in a statement. "Our findings show troubling racial disparities in the use of these lifesaving measures, and they point to the need to do more to ensure that every patient has the best chance of surviving."
The study was presented at the annual meeting of Society for Academic Emergency Medicine.