Data from records of cardiac arrests that happened outside hospitals in Canada and the US between 2005 and 2015 were assessed in the research, presented at the European Emergency Medicine Congress.
Scientists, including those from Montreal Heart Institute in Canada, looked at data from over 39,000 patients with an average age of 67. They assessed whether or not a bystander performed CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, when the emergency took place, as well as the age and gender of the patient.
They found only around half the patients received CPR from a bystander, with women less likely to be given CPR compared to men.
The study, which is yet to be peer reviewed, also found older people, especially older men, are slightly less likely to receive CPR in private locations.
When researchers looked only at cardiac arrests that happened in public places, such as on a street, the difference was greater.
They said the lower rates of CPR in public were found in women regardless of their age.
In a private setting such as a home, however, the study suggests with every 10-year increase in age, men were around 9 per cent less likely to be given CPR during a cardiac arrest.
For women having a cardiac arrest in such settings, the chances of receiving CPR were around 3 per cent lower with every 10-year increase in age.
“Our study shows that women experiencing a cardiac arrest are less likely to get the CPR they need compared to men, especially if the emergency happens in public. We don’t know why this is the case,” said Alexis Cournoyer, one of the authors of the research.
Researchers suspect this could likely be due to people worrying about hurting or touching women, or that they think a woman is less likely to be having a cardiac arrest.
“We wondered if this imbalance would be even worse in younger women, because bystanders may worry even more about physical contact without consent, but this was not the case,” Dr Cournoyer said.
While CPR can save lives, research suggested that not everyone who suffers a cardiac arrest gets the emergency care they need.
Scientists hope to further understand what lies behind the difference to ensure that “anyone who needs CPR gets it”.