A study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal concluded that the higher you live in a building the lower your chances of surviving cardiac arrest (if you suffer cardiac arrest at home). The research was based on 7,842 cases of cardiac arrest in the City of Toronto and Peel Regions over a five-year period.

Of those who lived on the ground floor or second floor, 4.2% survived to hospital discharge. For those who lived above the 16th floor, the survival rate was less than 1%. All of the 30 patients in the study who lived above the 25th floor died. Researchers attribute this to the fact that once the emergency medical first responders arrive on the scene there are added delays before they are actually able to reach the patient’s side and initiate treatment. While firefighters have a universal elevator key which gives them sole access to the elevator without public interruption, this is not generally available to medical first responders.

As land becomes scarce in urban metropolises, developers are building more high-rises and building them taller. Developers traditionally charge more for suites on higher floors, with the most expensive penthouse suites on the highest floors. Will this research deter buyers from buying units on the higher floors? Will this result in developers charging more for the lower floor suites? While this may influence the decision of some condominium purchasers who are seniors or have a personal or family history of cardiac problems, we don’t expect that it will have a major negative effect on the sale of condominium units on higher levels.

The study noted that survival outcomes would most likely improve if there were automated defibrillators placed in various locations in high-rise buildings for bystander use prior to the arrival of the first responders. This may be something to consider in condominium buildings with a high percentage of senior citizens.