The higher the floor you live on, the less likely you are to survive a heart attack.

By Seriously Science | January 19, 2016 10:31 am
Photo: flickr/Beau Considine

Photo: flickr/Beau Considine

If you live in the middle of a city, you probably think that you won’t have any problems with access to medical care in an emergency. Well, think again: according to this retrospective study of people who had heart attacks in high-rise buildings in Toronto, people on the upper floors were much less likely to survive. In fact, “In an analysis by floor, survival was 0.9% above floor 16 (i.e., below the 1% threshold for futility), and there were no survivors above the 25th floor.” (This is compared to 4.2% survival below the 3rd floor – still not great.) In other words, if you live above the 16th floor, the paramedics probably shouldn’t bother, and if you live above the 25th floor, well… God speed.

Out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in high-rise buildings: delays to patient care and effect on survival

“Background: increasing number of people living in high-rise buildings presents unique challenges to care and may cause delays for 911-initiated first responders (including paramedics and fire department personnel) responding to calls for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. We examined the relation between floor of patient contact and survival after cardiac arrest in residential buildings.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective observational study using data from the Toronto Regional RescuNet Epistry database for the period January 2007 to December 2012. We included all adult patients (≥ 18 yr) with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest of no obvious cause who were treated in private residences. We excluded cardiac arrests witnessed by 911-initiated first responders and those with an obvious cause. We used multivariable logistic regression to determine the effect on survival of the floor of patient contact, with adjustment for standard Utstein variables.

Results: During the study period, 7842 cases of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest met the inclusion criteria, of which 5998 (76.5%) occurred below the third floor and 1844 (23.5%) occurred on the third floor or higher. Survival was greater on the lower floors (4.2% v. 2.6%, p = 0.002). Lower adjusted survival to hospital discharge was independently associated with higher floor of patient contact, older age, male sex and longer 911 response time. In an analysis by floor, survival was 0.9% above floor 16 (i.e., below the 1% threshold for futility), and there were no survivors above the 25th floor.

Interpretation: In high-rise buildings, the survival rate after out-of-hospital cardiac arrest was lower for patients residing on higher floors. Interventions aimed at shortening response times to treatment of cardiac arrest in high-rise buildings may increase survival.”

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  • AG

    Good to learn! Well these folk might take comfort that they had good view from their windows which worth their life.
    My family always chose first floor of building for survival reason but without idea about heart attack. Any emergency situation like fire ect, we were always first family out of building. Even during one earth quake, we were the first family left building when tremor started. The last family got out at 15 min later though the building did not collapse. If it collapse on first shake, unlike any one survived. Life is about odd from the very moment of fertilization.

  • Odin Matanguihan

    well, if I’m gonna haunt the living, I might as well have a good view.


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