African-Americans Are Least Likely to Survive a Heart Attack

New study finds that overall, Blacks who are obese or have high blood pressure have a higher chance of dying when experiencing cardiac arrest.

Posted: 08/08/2011 07:50 AM EDT

Researchers from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, believe that they may be able to predict who is more likely—and least likely—to survive a heart attack. By looking at data from over 18,000 people from the United States, researchers narrowed down some traits that may be able to predict someone's risk that a heart attack could possibly kill them. And what they found was interesting: Being African-American, having high blood pressure and being obese all raised the risks of someone dying from cardiac arrest.

 

Health Day reported that researchers also found the following:

 

—Blacks are at higher risk than non-Blacks of sudden cardiac death, in which the heart suddenly stops beating, but are at less risk of coronary heart disease.

—High blood pressure and increased heart rate were stronger predictors of sudden cardiac death than coronary heart disease.

—Extreme high or low BMI was predictive of increased risk of sudden cardiac death, but not of coronary heart disease.

—Certain markers that can be identified by doctors evaluating patients' electrocardiograms (ECGs) are associated with increased risk of sudden cardiac death.

 

In a press release, Dr. Elsayed Z. Soliman, director of the Epidemiological Cardiology Research Center (EPICARE) at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, said, "For some people, the first heart attack is more likely to be their last." He added, "For these people especially, it is important that we find ways to prevent that first heart attack from ever happening because their chances of living through it are not as good."

 

But an important question to ask is that if you or someone else were having a heart attack would you even know?

 

Not being able to recognize symptoms and call 911 in time also plays a factor in cardiac arrest deaths in our community. And past studies have found that while knowledge of heart attack symptoms is poor within the general population, it is especially poor among African-Americans and Hispanics.

 

Symptoms of a heart attack include:

 

—Chest pain or discomfort in the center of the chest; also described as a heaviness, tightness, pressure, aching, burning, numbness, fullness or squeezing feeling that lasts for more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back. It is sometimes mistakenly thought to be indigestion or heartburn.

—Pain or discomfort in other areas of the upper body including the arms, left shoulder, back, neck, jaw or stomach

—Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath

—Sweating or “cold sweat”

—Fullness, indigestion or choking feeling (may feel like “heartburn”)

—Nausea or vomiting

—Light-headedness, dizziness, extreme weakness or anxiety

—Rapid or irregular heart beats

 

To learn more about heart disease, go here.

(Photo: JIM BOURG/Reuters/Landov)

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