Can you save a patient having a heart attack?

An experimental game designed by ProPublica, an independent, An experimental game designed by ProPublica, an independent, non-profit newsroom tests whether or not you have what it takes to save someone having a heart attack. Photo Credit: iStock

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What does it take to survive a heart attack?

That’s the question being asked by an experimental game designed by ProPublica, an independent, nonprofit newsroom. The interactive lets users explore how distance from a hospital impacts a patient’s chances of success — no medical degree required.

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Of the 715,000 Americans who have a heart attack each year, about 15 percent will die, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There are lots of factors that impact a patient’s chances of survival, but one of the most important ones is how quickly they can get to an emergency room.

The odds of survival decrease 7-10 percent every minute before defibrillation, according to the American Heart Association. In other words, emergency response time and distance from a hospital matter.

In designing the game, ProPublica also factored in the quality of emergency rooms around the region, as assigned by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

In the real world, there are lots more variables that influence the care of individual patients. Still, the game offers a nice overview of the complexity of keeping patients healthy — an important context to keep in mind as we consider the future of health care in the region.

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Give the game a try here: http://projects.propublica.org/graphics/heartsaver

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