Heart Attack Statistics - Women vs Men
I am an avid believer that showing stats will help participants understand the gaps. 92% of Canadians are 100% on board that children should begin learning First Aid in middle school and high school, but only 12% feel confident that a child could help them during an emergency. We have been pushing for change in the schools to teach relatable information such as First Aid. The earlier we can start the education, we can increase our out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survival rates.
Roughly 40% of Canadians have stated that they have been an emergency situation where they were required to perform First Aid, but here’s the thing only 18% of Canadians are currently certified. Roughly 60% of emergency situations require Canadians to provide first aid to a loved one or close friend, not a stranger. I cannot say this enough instructors are the ones who give people the confidence in the ability to help in an emergency when it comes to life and death. And yet many instructors are lacking in some of these core competencies. We need to elevate and raise the bar so participants feel comfortable when we are doing training classes; they feel like they can help and do something instead of sitting in fear.
Heart attacks in women are on the rise not just across Canada but globally. The majority of research and research funding is designated towards men only. Women in their 30s and 40s are being turned away from emergency rooms because they are deemed too young to have heart attacks even when they display the signs and symptoms. Heart disease and stroke are the number one killer of Canadian women every year, but 53% of women can’t even recognize signs and symptoms of a heart attack when they or someone they love.
Because women experience heart attack signs and symptoms differently than men, it is commonly chalked up to I have the flu, it’s that time of the month, or I’m just tired from working. Symptoms can range from lower back pain, menstrual-like cramping, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, irritability, flu-like symptoms, heartburn, gastrointestinal issues, extreme tiredness and chest pressure. These signs, for most women, look similar to any symptoms they also experience seven days once a month. There is not enough education around heart attacks in women, and women are dying unnecessarily. Oftentimes participants in my class of shocked by the list of signs and symptoms that women could exhibit even women participants who have had heart attacks are shocked that there are that many signs and symptoms. So the question is, how do we get this information to the forefront and make it mandatory to be taught in every single first aid class? Because let’s face it, there’s not one woman that I know that loves to spend a Friday night sitting in an emergency room waiting to see if they’re having a heart attack or not.
One woman every 20 minutes dies in Canada from a heart attack, in which early signs and symptoms were missed in 78% of women. Women are five times more likely to die of heart disease and breast cancer, and 2/3 of all clinical research focuses on men, not women. There are approximately 25,000 women who die every year from heart disease, yet this is still not mainstream information.
If you don’t know the signs and symptoms of a heart attack, we encourage everybody to watch the go red for women three-minute video. It could help save a life (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7wmPWTnDbE). If someone who is having a heart attack goes unconscious, immediately call 911 and get an AED. If they stop breathing, begin doing 30 chest compressions and 2 breaths until EMS arrives. Push hard and push fast. Typically, people are scared of hurting someone during CPR. However, if you were not pushing hard enough, you are not manually pumping the heart to keep the brain alive. When you are doing compressions, think of it like you’re building the pressure to circulate the blood through the body to keep the brain alive. Your first half a dozen pumps or so is building the pressure throughout the body and then your last 20 or so pumps is circulating that blood through the body.
Women experience different symptoms, and without proper education, and quickly being able to identify there might be an issue, which again comes from knowledge, paired with the confidence to act and perform CPR if needed, you have all the tools to help save a life.
If we go back to making first aid and CPR a mandatory life skill class for our students, imagine how quickly we could improve the out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survival rates.