Objectives: The association between socioeconomic status and cardiac arrest is less well known than some other associations with cardiac arrest. We used property tax assessments as a measure of socioeconomic status in a study of victims of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest found in ventricular fibrillation.
Methods: We studied patients attended by the Seattle Fire Department's emergency medical services system between May 1986 and August 1988. During the period studied, 356 episodes met the study criteria; 114 (32%) of these patients survived without major neurologic deficit. Residential property tax assessments were available for 253 of the patients.
Results: After adjustments were made for age, witnessed collapse, bystander-initiated cardiopulmonary resuscitation, time from call to paramedic arrival, activity, location of collapse, and chronic morbidity, an association of survival with greater assessed value per living unit was observed. An increase of $50,000 in value per unit was associated with a 1.6-fold increase in survival rate.
Conclusions: Not only are persons in the lower socioeconomic strata at greater risk for cardiac mortality, but they are also less likely to survive an episode of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.