AHA presentations highlight gender, racial disparities in response to cardiac arrest

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 - AED
Cardiac arrest training tools include a practice dummy and defibrillator.
Source: St. Michael’s Hospital

Men are more likely to receive bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in public locations than women and are more likely to survive cardiac arrest in those situations, according to research presented Nov. 11 at the American Heart Association’s (AHA) scientific sessions in Anaheim, California.

Researchers analyzed 19,331 cardiac events both in homes and in public. Overall, bystanders administered CPR in 37 percent of the cases, with similar rates for men and women receiving CPR in the home.

However, in public settings, only 39 percent of women received CPR versus 45 percent of men. In addition, men were 23 percent more likely to survive a public cardiac arrest.

“CPR involves pushing on the chest so that could make people less certain whether they can or should do CPR in public on women,” Audrey Blewer, MPH, the study’s lead author and the assistant director for educational programs at the Center for Resuscitation Science at the University of Pennsylvania, said in a press release.

Latinos less aware of AEDs

In another study presented at the AHA conference, researchers found Latinos are less aware of what automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are and who can use them than white people. This could affect outcomes of sudden cardiac arrest in Latino neighborhoods, according to an AHA press release.

More than 9,000 people took a telephone survey in English and Spanish. Twenty-six percent of Latinos didn’t know what an AED was compared to 5 percent of Caucasians. Also, 19 percent of Latinos and 27 percent of Caucasians correctly reported that “anybody” could use an AED.

According to the AHA, more than 350,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur each year in the U.S. Survival rates are only around 10 percent, but CPR, if administered immediately, can double or triple a person’s chances of survival. AED use is also a potentially life-saving technique.

“We’re only beginning to understand how to deliver CPR in public, although it's been around for 50 years,” said Benjamin Abella, MD, the senior author of the CPR study and the director of Penn’s Center for Resuscitation Science. “Our work highlights the fact that there's still so much to learn about who learns CPR, who delivers CPR and how best to train people to respond to emergencies.”