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Cardiac arrests: Why women have a higher mortality rate than men

Cardiac arrest involves the abrupt loss of heart function, breathing and consciousness

Saumya Joseph | Reuters 

Cardiac arrests
Photo: Shutterstock

Women who suffer outside of a hospital are less likely to receive help from bystanders and have less chance of survival than men, a recent Dutch study showed. The results align with what a separate study found in the United States last year: men had an increased likelihood of receiving bystander support and greater chances of survival than women.

For the new study, conducted in a province in The Netherlands, Hanno Tan at the University of Amsterdam and colleagues looked at data on more than 5,700 people who had cardiac arrests in the community. All were treated by the local emergency medical services (EMS) — but before EMS arrived on the scene, only about 68 per cent of women had received resuscitation attempts by bystanders, compared to about 73 per cent of men.

“This points to some commonality here that is happening in multiple countries. It would be very interesting to see if that’s the same worldwide,” Lorrel Brown Toft of the University of Louisville School of Medicine in Kentucky, who was not involved in the study, told Reuters Heath by phone.

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Tan’s team found that despite EMS attempts at resuscitation, only 12.5 per cent of women survived and were discharged from the hospital, compared to about 20 per cent of men.

involves the abrupt loss of heart function, breathing and consciousness. Chest compressions or CPR administered by bystanders cannot restore a normal heart rhythm, but it can buy time until emergency responders arrive, by maintaining blood flow to vital organs.

Bystanders play a crucial role, as the survival of a person in depends on how quickly witnesses provide CPR and notify emergency services of the event.

In the new study, however, even when emergency care was provided promptly, women were only about half as likely as men to have a “shockable rhythm,” which is a heart rhythm that can potentially be reset with a defibrillator, to restart the heart, the researchers wrote in the European Heart Journal.

First Published: Sat, May 25 2019. 21:57 IST