Sex and the Heart
Understanding the disparity in CPR response rates between men and women.
Female Sudden Cardiac Arrest Victims are Less Likely to Survive than Men
In a research study presented during the 2017 American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions conference (5), researchers analyzed data from 19,331 cardiac arrest events at home and in public and found that “although there are no significant gender differences in CPR performed on cardiac events in the home, a higher percentage of men (45%) receive assistance from bystanders in public compared to 39% of women. The study found that men were 1.23 times more likely to receive bystander CPR in public settings, and they had 23% increased odds of survival compared to women.”
How to Use an AED
“Performing CPR can double – or triple – the victim’s chances of survival from SCA. And, given the fact that hundreds of thousands of people die from SCA each year, even modest improvements in administering CPR can save thousands of women’s lives each year,” says Jafri.
In another study (6), participants wore virtual reality headsets to simulate a CPR rescue attempt. The participants were not informed of the type of rescue situation or the sex of the victim. According to an American Heart Association Recap, “The team’s findings showed that in their descriptive study, participants in their cohort performed CPR or used an AED on virtual-reality female victims less than on virtual male victims.” (7)
While performing human factors testing for the general usability of their new AED, Mr. Jafri and his team immediately noticed hesitation by male respondents to utilize an AED on a female manikin. He shares that “during all human factors testing, our goal is to learn as much as we can from a wide demographic of respondents, from males and females of all ages to untrained rescuers who have never seen an AED before, to trained health care providers with extensive AED familiarity. During our initial formative human factors studies, it was fascinating to observe the hesitancy that nearly all men had with responding to a female mannikin in even a controlled setting where they were assured that there would be no repercussions for their actions and there was no ‘wrong action.’”
These important human factors studies have led to some novel product features and voice prompts that don’t exist with currently approved AED units in the United States.
(1) The American Heart Association. “The Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics – 2013 Update” January 31, 2018. Circulation. 2018;137:e67–e492.
(2) Sumeet S. Chugh et al., “Women Have A Lower Prevalence Of Structural Heart Disease As A Precursor To Sudden Cardiac Arrest”, Journal Of The American College Of Cardiology 54, no. 22 (2009): 2006-2011, doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2009.07.038.
(3) Puja K. Mehta et al., “Sudden Cardiac Death In Women With Suspected Ischemic Heart Disease, Preserved Ejection Fraction, And No Obstructive Coronary Artery Disease: A Report From The Women’s Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation Study”, Journal Of The American Heart Association 6, no. 8 (2017), doi:10.1161/jaha.117.005501.
(4) Sumeet S. Chugh et al., “Women Have A Lower Prevalence Of Structural Heart Disease As A Precursor To Sudden Cardiac Arrest”, Journal Of The American College Of Cardiology 54, no. 22 (2009): 2006-2011, doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2009.07.038.
(5) “Men More Likely To Receive Bystander CPR In Public Than Women | American Heart Association”, Newsroom.Heart.Org, 2019, https://newsroom.heart.org/news/men-more-likely-to-receive-bystander-cpr-in-public-than-women.
(6) “Two Novel Studies Explore Why Women Receive Less CPR From Bystanders | American Heart Association”, Newsroom.Heart.Org, 2019, https://newsroom.heart.org/news/two-novel-studies-explore-why-women-receive-less-cpr-from-bystanders.
(8) American Heart Association. “Why women receive less CPR from bystanders.” ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/11/181105105453.htm (accessed March 1, 2019).
(9) W Fran, “Man Revives Woman with AED, Branded A “Pervert” For Removing Her Clothes to Apply Electrode Pads”, Soranews24, 2019, https://soranews24.com/2014/10/22/man-revives-woman-with-aed-branded-a-pervert-for-removing-her-clothes-to-apply-electrode-pads/.