Men Are More Likely Than Women to Receive CPR in Public, Study Finds

Men Are More Likely Than Women to Receive CPR in Public, Study Finds

November 2017

When cardiac arrest occurs outside the home, men are more likely than women to receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) from a bystander—and are more likely to survive, found a study team led by Audrey Blewer, MPH, who is assistant director for Educational Programs at Penn’s Center for Resuscitation Science and is pursuing a PhD in Epidemiology at Penn. These preliminary findings were presented at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2017.

“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 Ms. Blewer. 

The team evaluated 19,331 cardiac events using data from the Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium, which studies out-of-hospital treatments of cardiac arrest and trauma in the United States and Canada. They found that 45 percent of men received bystander CPR in public, compared to 39 percent of women, and that men’s odds of survival were 23 percent higher than those of women.

CPR in public is still rare; it occurs in only about 37 percent of all cardiac events that happen in public locations. But CPR is a key lifesaving technique that applies to both heart attacks and near-drownings. “The key take away from these data is that we need to find better and more effective ways to educate the general public on the importance of providing bystander CPR, and the importance of being comfortable delivering it regardless of factors like the gender, age, or even the weight of the person in need,” said senior author Benjamin Abella, MD, MPhil, director of Penn’s Center for Resuscitation Science. “This study and other investigations from our team are only just beginning to peel back the layers on CPR rates and training disparities, cardiac arrest survival, and the public’s understanding of the importance of rapid intervention during a cardiac emergency.”

The team also looked at in-home CPR and found no significant difference based on gender: 35 percent of women and 36 percent of men received CPR in the home. This finding could point to the idea that people are less comfortable delivering CPR to a woman they do not know. “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,” said Ms. Blewer. 

This study was funded by an American Heart Association Mentored Clinical Research Project Award.


Audrey Blewer, Shaun K. McGovern, Benjamin Abella

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