Study: Women less likely to get CPR from a bystander. But why?


A new study suggests women are less likely than men to get CPR from a bystander.

Researchers believe people might be hesitant touch a woman's chest.

According to the study, only 39-percent of women suffering cardiac arrest in a public place were given CPR versus 45-percent of men.

When Cindee Goodling was 20 weeks pregnant she suddenly collapsed from a cardiac event and if not for a group of complete strangers, she and her son wouldn't be here.

"Yes there was a bit of embarrassment when I realized somebody else had had their hands there and their lips on my lips, and that was a little weird, but you get over it because you're here," said Goodling.

Dr. Gale English, an Internal Medicine Physician at South Bend Clinic, says sometimes when a woman is suffering from a cardiac arrest it may look different from men.

Men have the symptoms commonly associated with a heart attack, like crushing chest, pain, sweating, and shooting pain down the left arm. For women, there may be heartburn, indigestion and vomiting before they pass out.

"It often present very differently and I think that would confuse an innocent bystander as to what is going on and should you even initiate CPR. Someone who's trained in CPR would know how to differentiate,” said Dr. English.

Dr. English says there's no reason to fear doing CPR because the palm of your hand should be over the person's sternum.

Goodling says she can see why some might be uncomfortable touching a woman's chest but there's no reason to be.

"You're trying to save someone's life and if in the end that person survives because you were courageous enough to overcome that discomfort-- that's a way better outcome then the patient passing away because you were afraid that you were touching them inappropriately,” said Goodling.

Dr. English says people may have different body size but performing basic CPR doesn't change significantly from men to women.

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