Women are less likely than men to receive life-saving CPR, a study of tens of thousands of cases suggests.
Researchers in Canada found that about 61 percent of women, compared to 68 percent of men, received CPR when they suffered cardiac arrest in public.
Doctors speculated this could be due to “political correctness” and viewers feared that a man performing CPR on a woman could “seem inappropriate.”
This could put women at higher risk of death from cardiac arrest than men.
About 61 percent of women, compared with 68 percent of men, received CPR when they suffered cardiac arrest in public, the study found.
More than 356,000 people suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in the United States each year, and between 60 and 80 percent die before reaching the hospital.
Dr. Alexis Cournoyer, co-author of the study and an emergency physician at the Montreal Heart Institute research centre, said: “In an emergency, when someone is unconscious and not breathing properly, in addition to calling an ambulance, bystanders should perform CPR.”
“This will give the patient a much better chance of survival and recovery.”
Doctors used records of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in Canada and the United States between 2005 and 2015, including 39,391 patients with an average age of 67 years.
They looked at whether or not a bystander performed CPR, where the emergency occurred, as well as the patient’s age and sex.
They found that only about half of the patients (54 percent) received bystander CPR.
Overall, women were slightly less likely to have CPR performed than men (52 percent compared to 55 percent).
When researchers looked at cardiac arrests that occurred in public, such as on the street, the difference was larger (61 percent of women compared to 68 percent of men). Low rates were found in women regardless of age.
Dr Cournoyer said: “Our study shows that women who suffer cardiac arrest are less likely to receive the CPR they need compared to men, especially if the emergency occurs in public.” We don’t know why this is so.
“It could be that people are worried about hurting or touching women, or that they think a woman is less likely to go into cardiac arrest.”
Dr. Stuart Fischer, an internist in New York, also said there may be a “sociological component” to the reluctance to perform CPR on women in public.
He told DailyMail.com: “Men may be reluctant to perform CPR on women because they may fear legal or emotional consequences.”
‘A man kneeling on the sidewalk with a woman who has had a major emergency, many men may feel unnecessarily uncomfortable doing so.
‘It’s not a social occasion. It’s a medical emergency.
To another bystander watching from afar as a man performed CPR on a woman, “it might seem inappropriate,” Dr. Fischer said. “While it is quite the opposite, it is very appropriate.”
“Political correctness must be left far behind” when it comes to saving someone’s life, he added.
Other studyconducted in 2019, asked participants: “Do you have any ideas about why women may be less likely to receive CPR than men when they collapse in public?”
The main theme they found among the responses was The sexualization of women’s bodies.
Other reasons cited included that women are more “weak and fragile and therefore prone to injury”, which a viewer may be concerned about.
The researchers concluded: “Members of the general public perceive fear of inappropriate contact, accusations of sexual assault, and fear of causing injury as factors inhibiting bystander CPR for women.”
CPR, medically known as cardiopulmonary resuscitation, should be performed when a person is unconscious and not breathing, or not breathing properly, even if their heart is still beating.
This is called respiratory arrest and will quickly turn into cardiac arrest without CPR.
If a person is unconscious but breathing normally, they should be placed in the recovery position.
This involves pressing hard and fast into the center of someone’s chest with the palm of your hand. Experts estimate that patients are more likely to survive when CPR is performed within 30 minutes of cardiac arrest.
Additionally, American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines state that all clothing should be removed from the chest before performing CPR.
Cardiac arrest is a medical emergency that occurs when the heart suddenly stops beating and denies the rest of the body oxygen-rich blood, cutting off supply to the brain and causing someone to lose consciousness.
When blood stops flowing to the brain, lungs, and other vital organs, their function is greatly diminished and key bodily processes necessary to keep a person alive stop.
Brain cells can die within minutes of being deprived of oxygen.
Most cardiac arrests occur when the electrical system of a diseased heart does not work properly.
It causes around 450,000 deaths a year in the United States.
Cardiac arrests differ from heart attacks, which occur when the blood supply to the heart muscle is cut off due to a clot in one of the coronary arteries.
Common causes of cardiac arrest include heart attacks, heart disease, and inflammation of the heart muscle.
Drug overdoses and heavy blood loss can also be a cause.
A defibrillator, a device that delivers electrical shocks to the chest wall, may be used to get the heart working again.
Shock allows heart cells to recharge, restoring heart rhythm.
If a defibrillator is not immediately available, CPR can keep oxygen circulating throughout the body.
The study’s findings will be presented Monday at the European Congress of Emergency Medicine.