Why are women less likely to survive cardiac arrest than men?

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Each year, about 6 million peopleTrusted Source around the world die from sudden cardiac deathTrusted Source caused by sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).

For the past 5 years, researchers from the European Heart Rhythm Association (EHRA) of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC), and the European Resuscitation Council (ERC) worked to improve SCA prevention and treatment through the ESCAPE-NET project, which concluded on January 1, 2023.

During this time, more than 100 studies connected to ESCAPE-NET research have been published in peer-reviewed journals.

One study published in the Journal of the American Heart AssociationTrusted Source in December 2021 found that primary careTrusted Source visits rose sharply the weeks before a person experiences SCA.

And another study, published in the European Heart Journal in May 2019, found that women receive less rapid resuscitation careTrusted Source from bystanders noticing they are having cardiac arrest than men, leading to a lower survival rate for women from SCA.

SCA occurs when an abnormal heart rhythm called an arrhythmia causes the heart’s electrical system to stop working properly.

This causes the heart to unexpectedly stop beating. SCA is different from a heart attack, where a coronary artery becomes blocked and blood is not able to reach the heart.

However, a heart attack can cause SCATrusted Source and puts a person at higher risk for SCA.

Because SCA occurs so quickly, the first treatment for SCA is normally calling emergency medical services and administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) until help arrives.

Previous researchTrusted Source shows that how quickly a person administers CPR has a direct effect on the survival rate and neurologic outcomesTrusted Source of the person with SCA.

In the study from the Journal of the American Heart Association, ESCAPE-NET researchers found that people who experienced out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) were more likely to have visited their primary care doctor in the weeks before having the cardiac arrest incident.