Houston Air Quality Study Reveals Surprising Details About Heart Attacks

The Rice University study set out to examine air quality factors in Houston in conjunction with EMS calls for service.

One string of data stood out — the high number of heart attacks in neighborhoods running straight up the middle of the city.

The most at-risk neighborhoods are south along the Highway 288 corridor — Sunnyside, South Park and Riverside — and northeast along the U.S. 59 corridor — Magnolia Park, Denver Harbor and the 5th Ward.

Dr. David Persse is the City of Houston's EMS director and top health authority.

"On a per capita basis, there's more cardiac arrests that were occurring. At the same time, we were paying attention to our CPR rates in neighborhoods. And then we just overlaid the two and then our statisticians ran the numbers and said there is clearly a difference in the rate of bystander CPR occurring in the neighborhoods that have the highest amount of cardiac arrest events."

In other words, people in those neighborhoods have a higher risk  of heart attacks and fewer people who know how to perform CPR. So the city and the American Heart Association are going out into those neighborhoods with CPR training.

"We have to get people who are willing to get down on their hands and knees, interlace their fingers, put it in the center of somebody's chest and start doing CPR. And the other things is, when you do CPR correctly, it's not like they show it on TV. If you watch on TV, they don't always really compress the chest because the actor doesn't want their chest to be really compressed. But there are ways to learn how to do CPR properly, to get the blood moving, and it more than doubles that person's chance of survival."

So far, they've trained more than 4,000 people.

The findings from the Rice University study are in the current edition of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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