Squeamishness?

Women are less likely to get CPR from bystanders, study finds

REUTERS/Henry Romero

Women who go into cardiac arrest in public are less likely than men to receive CPR from a bystander, according to a study presented at a recent American Heart Association conference in Anaheim.

As The Associated Press reports, the study examined nearly 20,000 cases and found that only 39 percent of women who suffer cardiac arrests in public were given CPR, compared to 45 percent of men. Men were also 23 percent more likely to survive such events — perhaps unsurprisingly, considering that CPR can help double or triple survival odds for people who experience cardiac arrest, an often-fatal condition that occurs when the heart stops pumping blood.

Researchers did not have access to information about bystanders and rescuers, so it is not entirely clear why this disparity exists. Intriguingly, however, no gender difference was observed among people who go into cardiac arrest at home, where they are likely to know the person performing CPR. As a result, researchers have suggested that people may feel reluctant to touch women’s chests or remove their clothing for better access while performing CPR.

“It can be kind of daunting thinking about pushing hard and fast on the center of a woman’s chest,” said Audrey Blewer, a University of Pennsylvania researcher and lead author of the study, according to the AP.

When done properly, however, CPR involves placing one’s hands on the sternum, not on the breasts. And at any rate, as study author Dr. Benjamin Abella told ABC News, observing someone go into cardiac arrest “is not a time to be squeamish because it’s a life and death situation.”

Read the full story at ABC News.  

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