Women more likely to die of cardiac arrest ‘because public don’t step in to do CPR’

Women more likely to die of cardiac arrest 'because public don't step in to do CPR'

WOMEN are more likely to die of cardiac arrest because people don’t step in to do CPR, experts say.
New research found that nearly three-quarters of us would attempt to resuscitate a collapsed man, compared with 68 per cent if it was a woman, in public.
Getty – Contributor Experts claim women are more likely to die of cardiac arrest because people don’t step in to do CPR
The Dutch researchers say that this could be because people didn’t recognise that women were having a cardiac arrest, which can lead to delays in calling emergency services.
But women themselves may also be unaware of the symptoms, according to the team from the University of Amsterdam.
Cardiologist Dr Hanno Tan, who led the research, said: “People may be less aware that cardiac arrest can occur as often in women as in men, and the women themselves may not recognise the urgency of their symptoms.
“Women may have symptoms of an impending heart attack that are less easy to interpret, such as fatigue, fainting, vomiting and neck or jaw pain, whereas men are more likely to report typical complaints such as chest pain.”
Another reason might be because demographically, there are more elderly women living on their own than men, therefore there isn’t as many people around to see it happen.
Survival rate HALF that of men
Dr Tan and his team analysed data from all resuscitation attempts made by emergency services between 2006 to 2012 in one province in The Netherlands.
They identified 5,717 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests treated during this period, 28 per cent of which occurred in women.
Their findings, published in the European Heart Journal, showed that the overall chances of women surviving to being discharged from hospital was about half that of men – 12.5 per cent compared with 20 per cent.
What are the symptoms of cardiac arrest?Cardiac arrest is when the heart suddnely stops beating.
Signs and symptoms suggesting a person has gone into cardiac arrest include:

they appear not to be breathing
they’re not moving
they don’t respond to any stimulation, such as being touched or spoken to

If you think somebody has gone into cardiac arrest and you don’t have access to an automated external defibrillator (AED), you should perform chest compressions, as this can help restart the heart.

Cardiac arrest vs heart attack
Cardiac arrest is an electrical fault with the heart, where it goes into an irregular rhythm and stops beating suddenly.
The symptoms are usually immediate and drastic and sufferers will suddenly collapse, appear to stop breathing and won’t respond to any stimulation – such as being touched or spoken to.
It differs to a heart attack, which is a blockage in the blood supply to the organ, and is usually accompanied by chest pain, shortness of breath and feeling weak or dizzy.
The team believe the disparity is down to the lower rate of shockable initial rhythm in women, which is the heart rhythm recorded when someone with cardiac arrest is connected to an electrocardiogram machine.
It is very fast – often more than 300 beats a minute – and chaotic.
Given the short window available to save the life of the patient, every minute in this early phase counts.Dr Hanno Tan University of Amsterdam
This fast and irregular rhythm prevents the heart from beating in a coordinated way so that there is no effective pump function, and blood can no longer circulate round the body and to the heart, leading to cardiac arrest.
Death occurs within minutes unless the heart can be shocked back to a normal rhythm by means of an electrical current from a defibrillator.
If this does not happen, then the shockable initial rhythm dissolves into a “flat line”, which indicates the absence of any electrical activity from the heart.
At this point it is too late for defibrillation to work and the only remaining option is chest compression to try to restore circulation sufficiently for the heart to regain its electrical and mechanical activity.
How to carry out chest compressions
To carry out a chest compression on an adult:
1. Place the heel of your hand on the breastbone at the centre of the person’s chest. Place your other hand on top of your first hand and interlock your fingers.
2. Using your body weight (not just your arms), press straight down by 5-6cm on their chest.
3. Repeat this until an ambulance arrives.
Aim to do the chest compressions at a rate of 100-120 compressions a minute. You can watch a video on CPR for more information about how to perform “hands-only” CPR.
Source: NHS

The ability to recognise and treat a cardiac arrest within minutes is, therefore, crucial to being able to treat patients while they still have a shockable initial rhythm and before their heart stops.
The researchers say that raising awareness and providing those who live on their own with wearable devices could tackle the problem with survival differences.
Dr Tan said: “As cardiac arrests occur most often outside the hospital setting in the general population, much can probably be gained by raising awareness in society that cardiac arrest is as common in women as in men but may have different symptoms.
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“Given the short window available to save the life of the patient, every minute in this early phase counts.”
Meanwhile, doctors have previously warned that more women are also dying of heart attacks because they have different symptoms to men.
Dr Glen Pyle from the University of Guelph claims that treatment guidelines for heart attacks are based on data collected primarily from men, and a result, “women are also less likely to receive recommended therapies, interventions and rehabilitation opportunities”.
How to use a defibrillator – know what to do if someone has a cardiac arrest

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