Published: Thu, August 09, 2018
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Women with heart attacks more likely to die when treated by men

Women with heart attacks more likely to die when treated by men

A truly incredible study claims a woman who has a heart attack should probably insist on being treated by a female doctor.

Women are more likely to survive a heart attack if they are treated by a female doctor in hospital, a major study has shown.

Scientists said the difference may be caused by male doctors underestimating the risk of heart problems for women or by misdiagnosing symptoms.

A female patient is also more likely to survive if a male doctor has recently treated more female patients, who may have had similar symptoms. Given the cost of male physicians' learning on the job, it may be more effective to increase the presence of female physicians within the emergency department. They suggest more female doctors are needed within emergency departments, and say training of doctors needs to be improved to make sure heart disease is not seen only as a male issue.

Huang, a professor of organizational psychology at Harvard Business School told The Atlantic: "There are inequalities in a lot of different contexts, but when someone is suffering from a heart attack, you might expect that there would be no gender differences because every physician will go in trying to save their patient's life".

The new study highlights the importance of having "a strong female physician workforce", said Jennifer Haythe, co-director of Columbia Women's Heart Centre at the Columbia University Medical Centre. But male doctors were linked to worse outcomes, particularly for women.

Male doctors, you're doing great, but you may want to take some notes from your female colleagues.

For both men and women, the same advice on preventing heart attacks applies - and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 80 percent of heart disease, especially heart attacks, can be avoided by modifying lifestyle behavior. Researchers at the University of Minnesota have found that female heart attack patients are more likely to die when treated by a man rather than a woman.

Researchers used data from 580,000 heart attack cases recorded at Florida hospitals between 1991 and 2010 and examined patient outcomes. "[Or] it could be because women are more likely to present atypically and female physicians are better at picking up cues than their male colleagues". Both sexes experience chest pain and discomfort commonly associated with a heart attack, women are more likely to experience shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, and back or jaw pain.

To put some numbers on these differences, the survival rate for men treated by female doctors is 88.1 percent, compared with 86.6 percent for women treated by male doctors-a reduction of 1.5 percentage points.

GRAPHIC: A graphic lists symptoms of heart attacks in women. "Female physicians may communicate better, with less medical jargon".

That's because more and more studies are coming to the same conclusion: Female doctors produce better outcomes than men.

"While this study supports this theory, more research is needed in United Kingdom hospitals to see if the bias exists here".

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