Women more likely than men to go into shock after car accidents

18-03-2024 10:56 AM

Ammon News - Women are more likely than men to go into shock after being in a car accident, a new study shows.

Researchers analyzed the medical data of more than 50,000 car crash victims and found that women display signs of shock more often than men.

The findings could advise the creation of new gender-based shock indexes for paramedics.

The American researchers behind the study suggested their findings could even improve car safety in the coming years by differentiating between genders.

It is well documented that car safety equipment was originally designed with male bodies in mind, meaning women sitting in the front seats are more likely to suffer severe or fatal injuries in crashes and more likely to become trapped in crashed cars.

Interested in the inequalities of car design and the resulting injuries, a team of researchers from the Medical College of Wisconsin used trauma injury data from car crash victims to evaluate the differences in injury patterns typical for males and females.

The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health, found that not only do injury patterns and severity differ between genders, but also that more women than men exhibit signs of shock.

“We found that vehicle crash injury patterns and injury severity differ between men and women," Dr. Susan Cronn, the study's first author, explained.

"We also show that women are arriving to the trauma bay with signs of shock more often than men, regardless of injury severity.

"These novel findings of sex differences in shock index mean we need to look further into how and why this is happening.

"We wanted to understand if differences in male and female injury and death in vehicle crashes are also present in clinical data."

Dr. Cronn's team looked at data from more than 56,000 car crash victims, half of whom were female.

Looking at clinical injury data allowed the researchers to see real outcomes, rather than risk estimations.

They found that even though men suffered more injuries overall, women suffered more injuries to their pelvises and livers.

But, more crucially, they saw that women surpassed a shock index greater than 1.0 more frequently than men.

They also found that this was true even for women who suffered fewer or less severe injuries than their male counterparts.

An elevated shock index can be an early warning sign of hemorrhagic shock, caused by heavy blood loss, but can also be an early predictor of mortality.

“Our findings might mean that women’s bodies have less capacity to function when physiological changes occur, that some injuries have more impact on female bodies, or that female bodies handle blood loss differently than male bodies,” Dr. Cronn said.

“It might also be that we have been assuming that normal vital signs are the same for everyone regardless of sex and that we need to re-visit our definition of normal.”

Dr. Cronn added that all these possibilities merited further investigation, as, if it became clear that her team's results were clinically relevant, a sex-differentiated shock index could adapt and improve how first aid responders and clinicians approach car crash victims.

The researchers also hope their findings could inform and improve car safety - which could even involve designing cars specifically engineered for the safety of either men or women.

Dr. Cronn said: “We hope that we can delineate the impact of sex on crash injury further, so that vehicle safety engineering can consider important male and female body differences in their design, and that they provide insight for legislation and regulations as needed for equity in car safety design."

The research team did admit their database lacking diastolic blood pressure data - which would have helped make shock index calculations more precise - constituted a limitation to their study, as well as a lack of data on vehicle size, type of crash and complete information on crash dynamics - all factors that could help better understand sex differences in crashed.

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