Gender Gap in Heart Attack CareDec 9, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP A new study of United States hospitals reveals that when woman are hospitalized with massive heart attacks they are likelier to die over men similarly hospitalized, the Associated Press (AP) reported. The AP said that, generally, although women seem to survive heart attacks at the same rate as men when they are hospitalized, it is when women suffer massive heart attacks that the gap presents itself and women are likelier to die. The AP also noted that women may be under-treated, receiving recommended medications and procedures either less than men or later than men in similar, massive, cardiac emergencies.
"We're doing better but not good enough for women," Dr. Hani Jneid, lead author of the study from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, told the AP. Jneid said, noted the AP, that the research team could not say if treatment decisions were or were not appropriate for patients. CTV.ca (Canada TV) said the study looked at over 78,000 heart attack victims and was conducted by a team from institutes nationwide. The study revealed, said CTV that female death rates for ST elevation myocardial infarction—known as STEMI and known to cause more heart damage than other heart attacks—were 10.2, while men experienced a rate of 5.5. News-Medical.net explained that women hospitalized with STEMI were about twice as likely to die in the first 24 hours of hospitalization over men.
Dr. Laura Wexler of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, another researcher involved in the study said that even though heart disease is the leading cause of death in women, it is still thought of as being a man’s disease. "It's very important for the public—women and the people who love them—to get over the idea that it's not a disease of women," Wexler said to the AP. "However, the finding of persistently higher death rates among women experiencing the more severe type of heart attack (STEMI) and the persistent gender gap in certain aspects of care underscore the existing opportunities to enhance post-heart attack care among women," Jneid said, according to News-Medical.net.
CTV also reported that the study revealed that much of the recommended treatments following heart attack that were not given or were given later to women included administration of Aspirin; women were 14 percent less likely to receive Aspirin compared to men. Also, women were 10 percent less likely to receive beta blockers, 25 percent less likely to receive reperfusion therapy, and 22 percent less likely to receive speedy angioplasty, noted CTV, which explained that Aspirin is used to prevent blood clots and reduce the risk of a repeat heart attack, beta blockers restore regular heart rhythms, reperfusion therapy restores blood flow, and angioplasty opens blocked arteries.
News-Medical.net reported that the study results were reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association and that the research team looked at information derived from the American Heart Association’s “Get With The Guidelines” (GWTG) program. The team reviewed patient outcomes from 420 hospitals between 2001 and 2006, News-Medical said.