Her Heart Matters: Why Female CPR is Important
Happy February! As the season of love rolls around again, we celebrate Valentine’s Day, American Heart Month, and a holiday you may not have heard of – Go Red for Women’s Day! Go Red for Women’s Day, which was started by the American Heart Association, is celebrated on the first Friday of every February in hopes of bringing awareness to cardiovascular disease in women.
Cardiovascular Diseases in Women
The American Heart Association reports that 45% of women ages 20 and up have some form of heart disease and the number continues to rise year over year. Cardiovascular diseases such as coronary artery disease, electrical heart problems (arrhythmias), heart attacks, cardiomyopathy (enlarged heart), valvular heart disease, and even heart defects present at birth can all increase the risk of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).
The irony is that women, who have a higher risk of heart disease than their male counterparts, have a lower survival rate than men when suffering from sudden cardiac arrest. One of the main reasons behind this is the hesitation rescuers have at performing CPR on females versus males.
Heartsmart Study on Female-CPR Stats
A study conducted by Heartsmart found that rescuers were more likely to save a female that they knew personally, such as a friend or family member, compared to a female stranger due to fear of breaking a law and being uncomfortable with the situation as a whole.
Can You Be Accused of Sexual Assault with Female-CPR?
When asked why they would be uncomfortable, many respondents said they were afraid of being accused of sexual assault. Other participants included statements like, “I am nervous about exposing a woman’s chest in a public setting,” or “I am uncomfortable cutting off a stranger’s bra to perform chest compressions.” The reason behind these thoughts was presumed to be fear of getting into trouble for exposing women openly in a public setting and the consequences that would come afterward.
What is the Good Samaritan Law?
Many bystanders don’t know that when they are trying to save a stranger’s life they are covered under the Good Samaritan Law in all 50 states. The Good Samaritan Law is a law set in place to give immunity to those trying to save lives.
Whether you are performing CPR, using an AED on a potential sudden cardiac arrest victim, or administering naloxone to someone experiencing a drug-related overdose, this law aims to protect victims from dying in an emergency situation by giving individuals a chance to save a life with no charges of crime even if the outcome is not a positive one.
Why is Female-CPR Uncomfortable for Rescuers?
Along with being uncomfortable for legal reasons, participants in the conducted study exhibited a notable lack of confidence when tasked with correctly administering chest compressions on a female subject, even if they had a CPR certification.
If you have been trained in CPR, you’ll notice that the manikins used in a course most likely had a male anatomy. No wonder so many potential rescuers are uncomfortable performing chest compressions on a woman – they have only practiced CPR techniques on a male manikin!
How to Become Comfortable with Female-Focused CPR
Luckily there are things you can do to become more comfortable at performing CPR on a female such as:
- Opting for training courses that specifically incorporate dedicated female-focused lessons
- Seeking CPR training programs that utilize female manikins or incorporate the PRESTAN Female Accessory, which is a breast add-on that can simply hook to a male manikin
- Enhancing your knowledge of the correct procedure for performing CPR or applying an AED on females, including pregnant women
By undertaking these steps, you can equip yourselves with the skills and confidence to effectively respond and bridge the gender gap to save more women’s lives during cardiac emergencies.
Heartsmart offers CPR, AED, and First Aid training. All training courses provided by Heartsmart are OSHA-compliant and are approved by federal, state, municipal, and private/non-profit organizations. You will receive a 2-year certification with all training courses.
In this season of love and care, let us not only celebrate but take a proactive stance in addressing the gender disparities in CPR response. By educating ourselves, supporting female-focused CPR training, and spreading awareness of the Good Samaritan Law, we can contribute to a world where every heart has an equal chance at survival during sudden cardiac arrest.
Related Article – Female CPR and What You Need to Know
Heartsmart is one of the largest privately owned Automated External Defibrillator (AED) companies in the industry. For years, the company has led the market with its “one-stop” shop strategy which provides clients with convenience and access to all major AED brands along with accommodating value-added services. It is considered an elite distributor for manufacturers including Philips, ZOLL, Physio-Control, Defibtech, Cardiac Science, and HeartSine. Heartsmart is also a carrier of CPR, AED, and first aid training courses that are OSHA-compliant and approved for certification by federal, state, municipal, and private/non-profit organizations. Community Safety Starts with Being Heart Smart.