Research Highlights:

  • Previous research has found that Black people are less likely to survive after a cardiac arrest compared to white people, however, a new, preliminary study found no difference in the rates for either group in receiving an intensive care unit (ICU) evaluation before a cardiac arrest.
  • Among all Black adults in the study, those who received an ICU assessment before a cardiac arrest had 15% increased odds of survival, according to researchers. 

Embargoed until 4 a.m. CT/5 a.m. ET Monday, October 31, 2022

DALLAS, Oct. 31, 2022 — Although racial disparities in survival after in-hospital cardiac arrest among Black and white people are known, both groups had similar chances of receiving an intensive care unit (ICU) evaluation before a cardiac arrest. Receiving an ICU evaluation prior to cardiac arrest improved survival rates by 15% among Black people, according to preliminary research to be presented at the American Heart Association’s Resuscitation Science Symposium 2022. The 2022 meeting will be held in person in Chicago, November 5-6, 2022, and will feature the most recent advances related to treating cardiopulmonary arrest and life-threatening traumatic injury.

For this study, researchers analyzed data for more than 28,000 adults, ages 18 years and older, who experienced cardiac arrest in a part of the hospital outside of the ICU between 2000 and 2021, from the American Heart Association Get With The Guidelines®-Resuscitation registry. Prior to having a cardiac arrest, all of the people had been identified (by a standardized system) to be at risk for requiring more interventions to prevent cardiac arrest.

The study compared how often a specialized ICU evaluation was completed among Black individuals compared to white individuals. Additionally, researchers assessed if that ICU evaluation may have impacted survival among the Black patients. They did not conduct the same analysis on survival among white people, given that its known that survival after cardiac arrest is worse among Black adults compared to white adults.

Among all participants in the registry, average age of 68 years and 42% women, about 2,400 (9 out of every 100) received a specialized evaluation by the ICU team. Researchers found no difference in the frequency that the ICU team evaluated Black or white patients prior to cardiac arrest. Most notably, they found that ICU evaluation prior to cardiac arrest improved survival for Black individuals by 15%.

“ICU evaluation for Black people at risk for cardiac arrest is important because it is already known that Black people have overall lower cardiac arrest survival rates when compared to white people. If there is little difference in the rates at which these ICU evaluations are being done, then it’s critical to further explore what else might drive these disparities in survival,” said lead author of the study Cody Gathers, M.D., a critical care fellow in the pediatric intensive care unit at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. “And the medical community should continue to appropriately recognize patient needs and prioritize early ICU evaluation prior to cardiac arrest, especially since our results indicate these evaluations may improve survival significantly among Black adults.”

The study’s findings are not  generalizable to people from other diverse racial or ethnic groups. In addition, the study’s findings are applicable only to the hospitals that participate in the database used for this study.

Get With The Guidelines is the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s hospital-based, quality improvement program that provides hospitals with the latest research-based guidelines to make it easier to provide consistent quality care. Developed with the goal of saving lives and hastening recovery, Get With The Guidelines has touched the lives of more than 10 million patients since 2001.

Co-authors are Ryan W. Morgan, M.D., M.T.R.; Jessica Alvey, M.S.; Ron Reeder, Ph.D.; Zachary D. Goldberger, M.D., FAHA; Jessica Fowler, M.D., M.P.H.; Maryam Naim, M.D., M.S.C.E.; Amanda O'Halloran, M.D.; Raina Merchant, M.D., M.S.H.P., FAHA;  Martha Kienzle, M.D.; Vinay M. Nadkarni, M.D., FAHA; Robert A. Berg, M.D., FAHA; and Robert M. Sutton, M.D., M.S.C.E., FAHA. Authors’ disclosures are listed in the abstract.

The study was funded in part through a 2020 American Heart Association Early Career Investigator grant to Dr. Gathers.

Statements and conclusions of studies that are presented at the American Heart Association’s scientific meetings are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect the Association’s policy or position. The Association makes no representation or guarantee as to their accuracy or reliability. Abstracts presented at the Association’s scientific meetings are not peer-reviewed, rather, they are curated by independent review panels and are considered based on the potential to add to the diversity of scientific issues and views discussed at the meeting. The findings are considered preliminary until published as a full manuscript in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

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Additional Resources:

The American Heart Association’s Resuscitation Science Symposium 2022 (ReSS) is an international forum for fundamental, translational, clinical and population scientists and care professionals to discuss recent advances related to treating cardiopulmonary arrest and life-threatening traumatic injury. The meeting is Saturday-Sunday, Nov. 5-6, 2022, in Chicago and will feature the latest scientific research science focused on understanding the shared pathophysiology between cardiac arrest and traumatic injury. The Resuscitation Science Symposium 2022 program is planned by the American Heart Association’s Council on Cardiopulmonary, Critical Care, Perioperative and Resuscitation’s. The meeting is of special interest to emergency physicians, trauma surgeons, neurosurgeons, cardiologists, critical-care nurses, intensivists, emergency medical providers, resuscitation educators, and researchers with basic, bioengineering, clinical or other experience related to treatment of cardiac arrest and trauma. Follow the conference on Twitter at @ReSS22.

About the American Heart Association

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