Would you perform CPR on a woman in public? Why are women less likely to survive in a cardiac arrest in public than men?

It’s a scary statistic that women are 27% less likely to have CPR performed on them by a bystander than if it was a man.

It’s not just here in the UK that these figures come from. We’ve looked at data from the Holland and from the US and they all have the same trend.

There is definitively a difference in survival rates and lots of medical data pointing at differently theories. One thing that we want to look at though is why people would attempt CPR on a man in the street but not a woman.

We’ve had questions on lots of courses about this so let’s have a look at some common misconceptions that might lead to this difference.

Do women suffer from cardiac arrests?

  • People don’t think women have cardiac arrests as much as men, so they think CPR is not the solution. Women do have cardiac arrests and this can even happy at young ages. The only way someone will survive is by CPR being performed quickly and a defibrillator being used.

Will you hurt a woman by performing CPR?

  • Absolutely not. When someone suffers from a cardiac arrest they are effectively dead – you can’t cause make them any worse than they already are. People can’t feel pain when they are dead so you can’t hurt them – something is better than nothing.

Could we get sued for performing CPR or exposing a woman’s chest in public and is it appropriate?

  • No, we have laws in place that protect the bystander as long as you are acting in the casualty’s best interest. Yes! It is appropriate to do this in public. Dignity is important but saving someone’s life trumps that!

Do breasts get in the way of performing CPR?

  • When you perform CPR on either a man or a woman you need to push down on the centre of the chest. You don’t need to change technique at all. Yes, if it’s a woman you will possibly touch her breasts but they will not ‘get in the way’. The fact that women have breasts should never stop you from delivering lifesaving CPR. Look at it as a body – not the parts. As Dr. Sarah Perman at the University of Colorado School of Medicine states, “providing this lifesaving procedure for women should be normalized, and not sexualized.”

It’s important that we talk and discuss worries and fears about performing first aid and taking a course can help with that. Never be afraid of asking questions – we love to answer them. So – Would you perform CPR on a woman in public?

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