Key To Surviving Heart Attacks - Location

Heart Attack Study
A new study finds that location dramatically impacts patients' chances of surviving cardiac arrest.
CBS

Sudden cardiac arrest is a "code red" - most patients die without help within the first 10 minutes.

Now a study finds patients are five times more likely to die depending on something you'd expect to hear from your realtor, not your cardiologist - location, location, location.

"Your chances of surviving cardiac arrest are dramatically different depending on where you live," said Dr. Lori Mosca, director of preventive cardiology at New York Presbyterian Hospital.

Researchers looked at survival rates for cardiac arrest cases called in to 911 in select cities and states throughout the country, reports CBS News medical correspondent Jon LaPook. Seattle, Iowa and Portland, Ore., were the best - about 16 percent of patients survived in Seattle and 11 percent in Iowa and Portland.

The worst? Dallas came in at less than 5 percent and Alabama was just 3 percent.

Seattle was also five times better than Alabama in cases of ventricular fibrillation - an irregular heartbeat treatable with an electric shock if it's given within minutes. In Seattle, nearly 40 percent of those patients survived compared with less than 8 percent in Alabama.

With such a huge difference in survival rates depending on where you live, people are going to have to start figuring out why that is, including, perhaps, differences in emergency medical services.

"The emergency medical system in our community can be very important in determining whether we live or die," said Mosca.

One reason behind Seattle's success is an emphasis on CPR and defibrillator training - not only for emergency crews but for the general public. With as many as 310,000 cases of cardiac arrest each year in the United States, more than 13,000 lives could be saved if every city did as well.