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November 11, 2017

Penn Medicine study: Men more likely than women to receive CPR in public

If someone suddenly suffers a cardiac arrest in public, bystanders are more likely to attempt CPR if the person in distress is a man, a new Penn Medicine study shows.

The research will be presented at the five-day American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2017 from Saturday to Wednesday in Anaheim, California, the medical center said in a release.

"By uncovering this disparity, we’ll be able to think about new ways to train and educate the public on when, why, and how to administer bystander CPR, in order to help save more lives - of both men and women,” said the study's lead author, Audrey Blewer, an assistant director for educational programs at Penn Medicine's Center for Resuscitation Science.

In more than 19,000 cases of cardiac arrest, 45 percent of men received emergency resuscitation compared to 39 percent of women, researchers said.

Bystanders give CPR in about 37 percent of all public cardiac arrest cases, but men are still 1.23 times more likely to receive it than women, researchers said.

Of the cases researched, the men were found to be nearly two times more likely to survive a cardiac event after receiving CPR from someone else in public.

But when it comes to CPR given in the home, researchers said gender appeared to play a far smaller role.

The study found that roughly 36 percent of men received in-home CPR compared to 35 percent of women.

The findings could mean that physical barriers make some people less comfortable giving CPR to a woman they do not know, researchers said, although they added that more work needs to be done to properly pinpoint a cause.

"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,” Blewer said in the statement.

Researchers pulled the data from the Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium, a network of regional clinical centers in the United States and Canada that study out-of-hospital cardiac arrest and trauma cases.

The possible disparity of men and women receiving emergency resuscitation in public has been studied a number of times in recent years, with similar results to what Penn's researchers concluded.

Another study published last year suggested that a similar gender disparity exists in potentially life-saving treatments given to cardiac arrest patients. 

Those researchers studied more than 1.4 million men and women treated at more than 1,000 American hospitals between 2003 and 2012 and found that women were less likely than men to undergo several procedures and more likely to die in U.S. hospitals after suffering cardiac arrest.