The Loh Down On Science

High-Rise Hazard

Karl Sandin / Flickr Creative Commons

Those pricey penthouses aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

In most apartments, you pay more to be on a higher floor.  But that might not be the only cost.

So say researchers at Saint Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.  They studied heart-attack survival rates at private residences.  Five years of data on over 18,000 patients.  All of whom were treated at home by first responders. 

Result?  The lower the floor, the higher the survival rate. 

Just how much lower?  Second-story residents survived five times more often than those on floor seventeen.  And above the twenty-fifth floor, no one survived.  Yikes!

Immediate treatment is key during a heart attack.  With each minute of delay, the odds of survival plummet.  But it takes longer for paramedics to reach higher floors.

Possible fixes?  Giving paramedics restricted elevator access during emergencies.   Improving access to defibrillators in high rises.  Alerting building staff before the EMTs arrive.

And while you wait?  Enjoy those chilled buckets of Dom Perignon.  Ah, penthouse life!


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