WEDNESDAY, Sept. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Residents of lower income neighborhoods are more likely to experience sudden cardiac arrest, a new study finds.

Sudden cardiac arrest is different from a heart attack. In sudden cardiac arrest, the heart stops beating and circulation of blood and oxygen to the brain and vital organs ceases, often leading to death within moments.

In the study, researchers from the United States and Canada analyzed 9,235 cases of sudden cardiac arrest in four U.S. cities (Dallas, Pittsburgh, Portland and Seattle-King County, Wash.) and three in Canada (Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver). The cardiac arrests occurred either at home or in nursing homes or assisted-living facilities.

In six of seven cities, the incidence of sudden cardiac arrest was higher in poorer neighborhoods than in more affluent ones.

This was especially true for those under age 65. People in the lowest 25 percent of income had sudden cardiac arrest rates two to four times higher than those in the upper 25 percent in the United States; in Canada, the disparity between lower and higher income was as high as three-fold.

In the cities studied, median household income was $50,000 to $63,000. Lower income neighborhoods were those in the $30,000 to $41,000 range, while the highest incomes ranged from $72,000 to $97,000.

The study appears in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

"Our results showing a younger mean age of sudden cardiac arrest in the United States may be consistent with more poorly controlled cardiovascular disease," the researchers wrote.

More information

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides more information on income disparities in health care.