A study suggests that women are less likely to receive lifesaving CPR than men in cases of cardiac arrest.
Researchers in Canada analyzed tens of thousands of cases and found that 61 percent of women, compared to 68 percent of men, received CPR when experiencing a cardiac arrest in public.
The discrepancy in CPR rates could be attributed to “political correctness” and concerns from bystanders about the appropriateness of a man administering CPR to a woman.
This gender disparity in CPR could potentially increase the risk of death from cardiac arrest for women.
Some 61 percent of women, compared to 68 percent of men, received CPR when they suffered a cardiac arrest in public, the study found
Every year, over 356,000 people experience out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in the US, and 60-80 percent of them die before reaching the hospital.
Dr. Alexis Cournoyer, an emergency medicine physician at the Montreal Heart Institute research center, emphasized the importance of bystanders performing CPR in addition to calling an ambulance during an emergency.
The study analyzed cardiac arrest records from Canada and the US between 2005 and 2015, including 39,391 patients with an average age of 67, examining whether bystanders performed CPR, the location of the emergency, and the age and gender of the patients.
Only 54 percent of patients received CPR from a bystander, and women were slightly less likely than men (52 percent compared to 55 percent) to receive CPR overall.
However, the gender disparity in CPR rates was more significant when the cardiac arrests occurred in public settings, such as on the street, with 61 percent of women receiving CPR compared to 68 percent of men. This observation was consistent across different age groups of women.
Dr. Cournoyer noted that the study’s findings indicate that women experiencing cardiac arrest are at a disadvantage in receiving the necessary CPR, particularly in public emergencies. The reasons behind this disparity are unclear and may involve concerns about causing harm or touching women, as well as the perception that women are less likely to experience cardiac arrest.
Dr. Stuart Fischer, an internal medicine physician in New York, suggested that there may be a sociological component contributing to the reluctance to provide CPR to women in public, as some men may feel uncomfortable engaging in potentially life-saving actions in this context.
To address this issue, both doctors emphasized the importance of prioritizing the preservation of life over concerns about political correctness or discomfort.
Another study conducted in 2019 explored participants’ perspectives on why women may be less likely to receive CPR in public. Responses highlighted the sexualization of women’s bodies as a major theme, along with concerns about causing injury due to the perception that women are weaker and more frail.
CPR, also known as cardiopulmonary resuscitation, should be administered when a person is unconscious and not breathing adequately, even if their heart is still beating. Prompt CPR significantly improves the chances of survival and recovery.
If CPR is not immediately available, performing chest compressions can help maintain oxygen circulation throughout the body.
Cardiac arrest is a medical emergency that occurs when the heart stops beating and deprives the body of oxygen-rich blood, leading to loss of consciousness.
Most cardiac arrests result from a malfunction in the electrical system of a diseased heart. The condition causes approximately 450,000 deaths each year in the US and differs from heart attacks, which are caused by the blockage of a coronary artery.
Common causes of cardiac arrest include heart attacks, heart disease, heart muscle inflammation, drug overdoses, and significant blood loss. A defibrillator is used to restore heart function by delivering electric shocks to the chest wall, while CPR helps circulate oxygen until a defibrillator is available.
The findings of this study will be presented at the European Emergency Medicine Congress.
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