Bystanders are less likely to give cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to women than men, particularly if the emergency takes place in a public area, according to research presented at the ongoing European Emergency Medicine Congress in Spain on Monday.
The study also shows that in private locations older people, especially older men, are less likely to receive CPR.
Researchers used data from records of cardiac arrests that happened outside of hospitals in Canada and the US between 2005 and 2015, including a total of 39,391 patients with an average age of 67.
They found that only around half of patients received CPR from a bystander (54 per cent). Overall, women were slightly less likely to be given CPR (52 per cent of women compared to 55 per cent of men).
However, when the researchers looked only at cardiac arrests that happened in a public place, such as the street, the difference was greater (61 per cent of women compared to 68 per cent of men). These lower rates of CPR in public were found in women regardless of their age.
When the researchers looked at cardiac arrests that happened in a private setting, such as a home, the data indicated that with every ten-year increase in age, men were around 9 per cent less likely to be given CPR during a cardiac arrest.
For women having a cardiac arrest in a private setting the chances of receiving CPR were around 3 per cent lower with every ten-year increase in age.
“Our study shows that women experiencing a cardiac arrest are less likely to get the CPR they need compared to men, especially if the emergency happens in public. We don’t know why this is the case. It could be that people are worried about hurting or touching women, or that they think a woman is less likely to be having a cardiac arrest,” said Dr Alexis Cournoyer, an emergency medicine physician and researcher from the Hopital du Sacre-Coeur de Montreal in Canada.
“We wondered if this imbalance would be even worse in younger women, because bystanders may worry even more about physical contact without consent, but this was not the case.”
The researchers said that CPR saves lives and urges people to learn how to perform CPR and to give it without hesitation to anyone who needs it, regardless of gender, age or location.
“In an emergency when someone is unconscious and not breathing properly, in addition to calling an ambulance, bystanders should give CPR. This will give the patient a much better chance of survival and recovery,” Cournoyer said.