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Heart Attacks And Women- The Gender Bias Continues

Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, December 09, 2008 12:01 PM EST
Category: None
Tags: Heart Attacks, FDA and Prescription Drugs, ER, Chest Pains, Women's Health

Heart attack outcomes are worse for women.



IMAGE SOURCE: ©iStockphoto/ EMT checking for a pulse/ author: sdominick


You are rushed to the hospital with symptoms of a heart attack. The quality of your care may depend on your gender.

This Baylor College of Medicine study finds that women are less likely to receive timely and appropriate treatment for a heart attack. If the symptoms are severe, they are nearly twice as likely as men to die within the first 24 hours of hospitalization. 


Women may show a variety of symptoms such as nausea and vomiting when they are having a heart attack. They experience less heart pains then men.

And more often its men who have massive heart attacks, complete blockage of an artery, than women – 35 to 28 percent.

Then there is the issue of gender bias.

Previous research has shown that the perceived stereotype is that heart attacks are a man’s issue. 

But these results were surprising, even to the researchers who thought the gender gap in treatment had closed or narrowed.

"I was surprised there is still so much of a difference," said Dr. Hani Jneid, a Baylor professor of cardiovascular medicine and the study's lead author told the Houston Chronicle."I would have expected the gap to have closed by now. We need to do better."

The answer to the question “Why” needs more study, authors conclude.

The research is reported in the American Heart Association journal Circulation. 

The good news is that the gender bias trend is improving. A decade ago, efforts were made to narrow the gender gap in treatment.

Then, women were 40 percent more likely to die from heart attacks than men.  They were 25 percent more likely to die from heart attacks after the numbers were adjusted for age and risk factors.  

Now the death rate is about 12 percent.

In this study, researchers examined the records of more than 78,000 patients hospitalized for heart attacks between 2001 and 2006. 

In all, 420 hospitals that participate in clinical trials were represented, which might not accurately reflect the nation as a whole.

Patwolf writes to the Houston Chronicle about her experience after she was told she was having a heart attack:

     “On the way, I stopped at my house and fed the cats, cleaned the kitchen, still not believing that anything was wrong with me. Well, there was! The tests at the hospital showed that I was having a heart attack, the 3rd in the last two days. The 98% blockage could not be repaired with a stint, three days later, I had triple bypass heart surgery. I write this for all the women out there, our symptoms may not be the massive chest pain we associate with heart attacks. Have an EKG yearly, get the blood pressure and cholesterol under control and take that daily asprin as recommended by your physician.”  #

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