In Scotland, women make up 36% of all out-of-hospital cardiac arrests. This amounts to about 1,200 women per year.
Studies have shown that across the board, women are less likely than men to receive CPR when in cardiac arrest. Reasons include psycho-social factors such as fear of being accused of sexual assault and perceived “female frailty” which can make bystanders hesitant to step in or even recognise a cardiac arrest in women.
In addition, women are also less likely to have a defibrillator used on them by a bystander than men due to fears related to exposure of the chest to place the defibrillator pads on.
These fears and uncertainties about performing CPR on women have real life consequences with survival rates of women lagging behind men. A change is needed in attitudes and culture around cardiac arrest in women to close this gender health gap. Do not be afraid to give CPR to a woman. Having breasts should not stand in the way of a person getting the help they need.
Let’s clear up any misconceptions once and for all: CPR is a gender neutral life-saving technique. Properly administering CPR involves pushing hard and fast in the centre of the patient’s chest, regardless of whether that patient has breasts. To read more about the research around women and CPR, please see our information sheet here.
Let’s kill the stigma that’s killing women and #GiveHerCPR.