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Men Receive More Help than Women During Bystander CPR

Women are less likely to ask for CPR from bystanders if they experience sudden cardiac arrest in public and are therefore more likely to die, according to a study by the Center for Resuscitation Science at Penn Medicine.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), over 350,000 cardiac arrests occur in public each year and about 90 percent of people who experience cardiac arrests outside of a hospital die. An AHA infographic explains that cardiac arrest occurs when the heart malfunctions and unexpectedly stops beating, and how death occurs within minutes if cardiac arrest victims do not receive treatment.

According to a Penn Medicine News release, researchers evaluated 19,331 cardiac arrests using data from the Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium. About 39 percent of women received bystander CPR, in comparison to 45 percent of men, who were also twice as likely to survive cardiac arrest after bystander CPR. In contrast, the study also analyzed in-home CPR and found no significant difference between the help men and women received.

University of Pennsylvania lead researcher Audrey Blewer explained how men may fear hurting women, moving their clothing, or touching them inappropriately during CPR, as the AARP reports.

“It can be kind of daunting thinking about pushing hard and fast on the center of a woman’s chest,” said Blewer.

She encourages breaking past these fears to preserve as many lives as possible.

“Regardless of someone’s gender or how their body is shaped, delivering bystander CPR during cardiac arrest is absolutely critical, as it has been proven to double and even triple a victim’s chance of survival,” said Blewer.

Anaheim resident Manuel Delarva told KCLA9 that he may hesitate to perform CPR in public on a woman he does not know in order to avoid misinterpretation.

“The way things are now, you know, you can get taken out of context,” he said. “You’re doing CPR and people think it’s something else.”

The study’s results indicate that people need more effective CPR training because during proper CPR, the responder presses in the middle of the chest. Therefore, men should not have to touch women inappropriately, University of Pennsylvania’s Dr. Benjamin Abella told AP.

Dr. Roger White from the Mayo Clinic co-directs the paramedic program in Rochester, Minnesota and researches out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. White described how he will look at the issue closely because he fears that large breasts will prevent proper placement of defibrillator pads if women need a shock to restore their normal heart rhythm, according to the Washington Post.

Dr. Abella, director of the University of Pennsylvania Center for Resuscitation Science and professor of Emergency Medicine, emphasized educating the public about the necessity of CPR during life-threatening situations.

“The key takeaway from these data is that we need to find better and more effective ways to educate the general public on the importance of providing bystander CPR, and the importance of being comfortable delivering it regardless of the factors like the gender, age, or even the weight of the person in need,” said Abella.

It is important to learn CPR techniques properly and be prepared to respond during emergency situations, regardless of the victim’s gender. One person’s action can save another’s life, especially in cardiac arrest situations.

Featured Image by Jörg Schubert on Flickr

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