When it comes to heart attacks, where you live matters

The Piney Woods of east Texas - perfect place to live, work - and perhaps, have a heart attack?A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association says when it comes to cardiac arrest, some places are better than others. We sent KLTV 7's Layron Livingston to find out where east Texas stacks up, and what's here to help increase your chance of survival.

"I was at home, in the bed again, and my chest started hurting and I knew what was happening," says Charlie Butler.

Charlie survived his second heart attack, and it turns out, where he lived may have given him a better chance. A new study looks at the outcomes of cardiac arrest across 10 regional areas in north America, 8 in the U.S. and 2 in Canada.

Of the nearly 2,100 cardiac episodes that happened outside the home, resuscitation was tried on more than half, and nearly a thousand were discharged alive. Rate of survival ranged from 3% to just over 16%.

Dr. William Moore works in the ER at ETMC. He says here in east Texas, surviving a heart attack depends on two main factors.

"One is your mate, or some neighbor knowing CPR so that you get immediate CPR, and the other one is a first responder with an automatic defibrillator."

He says ETMC looks at its cardiac outcomes on a yearly basis.

"It's around 3.5% - 4% that actually survive with good brain function.

He says it's near the national average, but also key to survival is an organized EMS system.

Arnie Spiers with Champion EMS says East Texas has it.

"Whether you're starting CPR, you're defibrillating the patient, you're doing a 12 lead on the patient and notifying the hospital, you're getting the teams to the hospital, you're giving that care, from start to finish is what makes those outcomes what they are," said Spiers.

East Texans like Charlie appreciate it.

"I don't want to see any of these people again....because I had a heart attack!"

And hopefully, he'll never have to.

Not every city tracks its cardiac arrest survival rates, making it hard to judge performance.

But cities with high rates of survival normally had EMS systems run managed and overseen by hospitals, like here in east Texas.

Layron Livingston, reporting. llivingston@kltv.com