If you’re ever a woman in cardiac arrest in public, well wishes to you as you are less likely to receive lifesaving CPR, leaving you more likely to die as a result.

Researchers believe that the uneasiness of touching a woman’s chest might be the issue. The conducted study looked at the differences in gender receiving public aid when suffering heart issues.

When cardiac arrest occurs, it is due to an electrical disturbance in the heart. The sufferer will lose consciousness and become unresponsive. When a defibrillator and professional medical assistance aren’t available, the best course of action to save the person and possibly regain function in the heart is CPR, which can double or triple the odds of survival.

In the 20,000 cases around the country where medical help from the public was possible, of the 45 percent of men given CPR in a public place 23 percent were likely to survive than the 39 percent of women that received help. The question is “why?”

Why are women less likely to receive help in public?
Audrey Blewer, the University of Pennsylvania researcher who headed the study, believes the fragility of women might be the concern. “It can be kind of daunting thinking about pushing hard and fast on the center of a woman’s chest.” Clothing and personal space can also be an issue.

Removing clothing to gain better access to the chest can be contravening to a woman’s privacy. Dr. Benjamin Abella feels that there should be no concern about touching a woman’s breast when the opportunity to provide life-saving CPR arises. “You put your hands on the sternum, which is in the middle of the chest. In theory, you’re touching in between the breast.” There was not a difference in the CPR rates for home stricken sufferers where the rescuer knew the person in need of help.

What can be done to improve the public CPR rates?
The findings are suggestive that there needs to be a change in the training. The concern about lack of training on a female body is reasonable as CPR is usually practiced on male mannequin torsos.

Dr. Roger White co-directs the paramedic program for the city of Rochester, Minnesota and he has had his own concerns as it pertains to gender and rescue efforts. White has expressed his worries about the possibilities of improper defibrillator pads placement in the case of women with large breasts. “All of us are going to have to take a closer look at this [gender issue],” said White.

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