Many Women Miss Out on Lifesaving CPR

From - November 11, 2017

Many Women Miss Out on Lifesaving CPR

SATURDAY, Nov. 11, 2017 -- America's hang-ups over sexuality and gender could cost women their lives when their heart suddenly stops, a new study suggests.

Simply put, women suffering from cardiac arrest in a public setting are less likely to get lifesaving CPR from a passerby than men are, researchers reported.

"When it comes to life and death, we need to reassure the public that we are not worrying about what seems socially inappropriate or taboo," said senior study author Dr. Benjamin Abella. He is director of the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Resuscitation Science.

"The situation requires action, and it requires people to not hesitate. A life is on the line," Abella added.

But the study showed people do hesitate, especially when the victim is a woman. About 45 percent of men who suffered cardiac arrest in a public setting received CPR from a bystander, compared with only 39 percent of women, the researchers found.

The investigators suspect bystanders might be worried about touching a strange woman's chest in public, even if it is to save a life.

The reason the researchers believe that is because people acted very differently when a woman collapsed at home, where she had an equal chance of receiving CPR.

The study involved data gathered by the Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium, a network of U.S. and Canadian hospitals studying cardiac arrest.

Cardiac arrest can kill a person within minutes if CPR is not performed, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).

More than 350,000 cardiac arrests occur outside of a hospital each year. Nine out of 10 of these victims die, but speedy CPR can double or triple the chance of survival, the AHA noted.

The researchers reviewed more than 19,000 cases of cardiac arrest that occurred outside of a hospital between 2011 and 2015.

Men in public settings were 23 percent more likely than women to receive bystander CPR, and they also had 23 percent better odds of survival, according to the report.

But, "when we looked in the home, there was no difference in terms of response by gender in the home," said study author Audrey Blewer, an assistant director for educational programs at UPenn's Center for Resuscitation Science.

The difference between men and women is "unexpected," said Dr. Clifton Callaway, executive vice chair of emergency medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

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