Differential survival for men and women from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest varies by age: Results from the OPALS study

Basmah Safdar, Uwe Stolz, Ian G. Stiell, David C. Cone, Bentley J. Bobrow, Melanie Deboehr, Jonathan Dreyer, Justin Maloney, Daniel W. Spaite

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Background The effect of sex on survival in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) is controversial. Some studies report more favorable outcomes in women, while others suggest the opposite, citing disparities in care. Whether sex predicts differential age-specific survival is still uncertain. Objectives The objective was to study the sex-associated variation in survival to hospital discharge in OHCA patients as well as the relationship between age and sex for predicting survival.

Methods The Ontario Prehospital Advanced Life Support (OPALS) registry, collected in a large study of rapid defibrillation and advanced life support programs, is Utstein-compliant and has data on OHCA patients (1994 to 2002) from 20 communities in Ontario, Canada. All adult OHCAs not witnessed by emergency medical services (EMS) and treated during one of the three main OPALS phases were included. Clinically significant variables were chosen a priori (age, sex, witnessed arrest, initial cardiopulmonary resuscitation [CPR], shockable rhythm, EMS response interval, and OPALS study phase) and entered into a multivariable logistic regression model with survival to hospital discharge as the outcome, with sex and age as the primary risk factors. Fractional polynomials were used to explore the relationship between age and survival by sex.

Results A total of 11,479 (out of 20,695) OPALS cases met inclusion criteria and 10,862 (94.6%) had complete data for regression analysis. As a group, women were older than men (median age = 74 years vs. 69 years, p < 0.01), had fewer witnessed arrests (43% vs. 49%; p < 0.01), had fewer initial ventricular fibrillation/ventricular tachycardia rhythms (24% vs. 42%; p < 0.01), had a lower rate of bystander CPR (12% vs. 17%; p < 0.01), and had lower survival (1.7% vs. 3.2%; p < 0.01). Survival to hospital admission and return of spontaneous circulation did not differ between women and men (p > 0.05). The relationship between age, sex, and survival to hospital discharge could not be analyzed in a single regression model, as age did not have a linear relationship with survival for men, but did for women. Thus, age was kept as a continuous variable for women but was transformed for men using fractional polynomials [ln(age) + age3]. In sex-stratified regression models, the adjusted probability of survival for women decreased as age increased (adjusted odds ratio = 0.88, 95% confidence interval = 0.81 to 0.96, per 5-year increase in age) while for men, the probability of survival initially increased with age until age 65 years and then decreased with increasing age. Women had a higher probability of survival until age 47 years, after which men maintained a higher probability of survival.

Conclusions Overall OHCA survival for women was lower than for men in the OPALS study. Factors related to the sex differences in survival (rates of bystander CPR and shockable rhythms) may be modifiable. The probability of survival differed across age for men and women in a nonlinear fashion. This differential influence of age on survival for men and women should be considered in future studies evaluating survival by sex in OHCA population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1503-1511
Number of pages9
JournalAcademic Emergency Medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Differential survival for men and women from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest varies by age: Results from the OPALS study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this