Awareness of heart attack symptoms and lifesaving actions among New York City area residents

Janice M. Barnhart, Oshra Cohen, Harvey M. Kramer, Catherine M. Wilkins, Judith Wylie-Rosett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The American Heart Association has a national network of community-based programs designed to reduce response times to cardiac emergencies by improving access to automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) among laypersons. Success of these Operation Heartbeat programs depends in part on the public's knowledge of the warning signs of a myocardial infarction (MI) and appropriate response to cardiac arrest victims. In May 2000, a 7-minute telephone survey was administered to a random sample of adults residing within the American Heart Association affiliate territories of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to determine the knowledge of MI symptoms, confidence in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) use, and the awareness of AEDs. Of the respondents, 60% were women (n =1,128), 83% were Caucasians (n =1,558), 15.2% were non-whites (African American, Asian, or Hispanic), and 38.5% had at least a college degree (n =724). Women were significantly more likely than men to know that sex differences exist in the warning signs for an MI (63% vs. 30.7%, respectively; P <.001). Whites had above-average confidence in MI recognition compared with non-whites (39.2% vs. 27.4%, respectively; P <.001) and were more cognizant of the public availability of AEDs (54.5% vs. 33.2%, respectively; P <.001). Our findings suggest that racial/ethnic and sex disparities exist in the awareness of AEDs and in the knowledge of atypical MI symptoms in women, respectively. Innovative CPR outreach programs might be needed in New York area communities to increase CPR training among all adults, to increase AED awareness in vulnerable populations, and to improve knowledge and confidence in the recognition of acute MI symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-215
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Urban Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2005


  • CPR
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Defibrillators
  • Disparities
  • Race

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Urban Studies
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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