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Can Rethinking CPR Training Benefit Women?

Female mannequin being used for CPR training

While women and men are at equal risk of sudden cardiac arrest, women are less likely to be resuscitated. Cedars-Sinai researchers are investigating whether a simple change to CPR training—adding breasts to CPR mannequins—will help.

“CPR has only been taught on ‘male’ mannequins, leading to a host of trainees who, unfortunately, are only taught how to recognize physical landmarks and to perform compressions on someone who is flat-chested,” says Tara Cohen, PhD, director of Surgical Safety and Human Factors Research.

The investigators commissioned female mannequins with moderately sized breasts and added them to healthcare providers’ CPR training courses. The team is observing physicians’ techniques with these new mannequins and their flat-chested counterparts to identify any sex-related differences that affect treatment.

“Think of this as our opportunity to save lives,” says researcher Pooja Nawathe, MD, associate director of the Congenital Cardiac Intensive Care Unit. “To ensure we move toward healthcare equity, understanding any sex-related difference that exists in CPR treatment is crucial and has important implications for future training for all healthcare professionals.”