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More nurses mean fewer heart attack deaths

It turns out nurses are good for the heart. Provided they aren’t overworked and underappreciated.

A study published in The Journal of Medical Care found that 85% of patients who suffer an in-hospital cardiac arrest (IHCA) die before being discharged. This is despite the fact that 80% of IHCA cases are witnessed and 88% of patients were on cardiac monitoring equipment when the attack happened. [1]

Nurses are typically the first to witness and respond to IHCA cases, making them crucial in a patient’s survival. It was found that each additional patient per nurse decreased a patient’s chances of surviving an IHCA by 5% and that a poor work environment dropped a patient’s chances of survival by 16%.

Researchers suggest improving nurse staffing in general medical-surgical units to increase IHCA survival rates. Medical-surgical units have the most variable staffing levels and would benefit the most with more nurses. Improving staffing may be difficult for some hospitals because of costs, though some of the pressure can be alleviated by hiring temporary nurses. [2]