Daily Bulletin


The Conversation

  • Written by Clara Chow, Director of the Westmead Applied Research Centre, University of Sydney, George Institute for Global Health
Women who have heart attacks receive poorer care than men

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in both Australian men and women. But our new research shows Australian women who have heart attacks are less likely to receive treatment and are at a greater risk of experiencing problems with their care than men.

Past research noted the different health outcomes of women and men who had heart attacks, but it was unclear whether this was due to differences in the type of heart attacks they suffered or other differences such as age and size.

Our study, published today in the Medical Journal of Australia, set out to examine whether – all things being equal – women with a STEMI (ST-elevation myocardial infarction) type of heart attack have the same outcomes as men.

A STEMI is a common and lethal type of heart attack. We chose this condition because it has a tell-tale signature on an ECG (or electrocardiogram, which measures the electrical activity of the heart), making it easy to identify. It also has a standard treatment pathway.

Read more: How Australians Die: cause #1 – heart diseases and stroke

We analysed data from a large national registry that collects information about patients who have had heart attacks and been admitted to 41 Australian hospitals.

We found that women with a STEMI heart attack were less likely to undergo coronary angiography – a special X-ray of the heart’s arteries – to see if they are narrowed or blocked than men.

Women were more likely to have a serious problem with their care after their heart attack than their male peers, and were less likely to be referred for cardiac rehabilitation (for things like exercise and nutrition advice), or to be prescribed medications.

What does this mean for women’s care?

If patients don’t undergo coronary angiography, any blockages are unable to be identified and treated.

Our study found that not only were women less likely to get these blockages treated than men, when they did, this treatment was more likely to be later than recommended by the hospital’s own performance goals.

Read more: Medicine's gender revolution: how women stopped being treated as 'small men'

These treatment disparities lead to women being twice as likely to die than men six months after their heart attack.

The exact reasons for the disparity are unclear. But the type of heart attack and differences in other risk factors – such as the rate of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol – did not explain the differences.

Addressing the gap in care

Heart attacks remain under-diagnosed in women, which is likely to stem from poor awareness among health providers and the general public.

Because heart attacks have traditionally been thought to be a disease of middle-aged men, women are often quick to encourage their partners to seek medical attention when they develop worrying symptoms, while ignoring similar symptoms themselves.

While it’s commonly thought that women take better care of themselves than men, research has found that women who have a heart attack are less likely to attend cardiac rehabilitation, less likely to take their medication regularly and less likely to make lifestyle changes to improve their health.

Women who have heart attacks may have fewer classical symptoms such as pain in the centre of the chest and are more likely to experience breathlessness or nausea.

Read more: Women have heart attacks too, but their symptoms are often dismissed as something else

Women are more likely to present with non-STEMI type heart attacks, which can be more difficult to diagnose, as the ECG findings are more varied. Research suggests women with non-STEMI heart attacks do even worse, due to delays in presenting to hospital.

We need to be pro-active about improving care for women who have had a heart attack and raising awareness about the unique risks women face.

This article was co-authored by Ehsan Khan, Cardiology registrar at the Flinders Medical Centre.

Authors: Clara Chow, Director of the Westmead Applied Research Centre, University of Sydney, George Institute for Global Health

Read more http://theconversation.com/women-who-have-heart-attacks-receive-poorer-care-than-men-100161

Writers Wanted

Ancient sponges or just algae? New research overturns chemical evidence for the earliest animals

arrow_forward

Silky oaks are older than dinosaurs and literally drip nectar – but watch out for the cyanide

arrow_forward

Scott Morrison's message to China: Don't pigeonhole us

arrow_forward

The Conversation
INTERWEBS DIGITAL AGENCY

Politics

Prime Minister Interview with Kieran Gilbert, Sky News

KIERAN GILBERT: Kieran Gilbert here with you and the Prime Minister joins me. Prime Minister, thanks so much for your time.  PRIME MINISTER: G'day Kieran.  GILBERT: An assumption a vaccine is ...

Daily Bulletin - avatar Daily Bulletin

Did BLM Really Change the US Police Work?

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has proven that the power of the state rests in the hands of the people it governs. Following the death of 46-year-old black American George Floyd in a case of ...

a Guest Writer - avatar a Guest Writer

Scott Morrison: the right man at the right time

Australia is not at war with another nation or ideology in August 2020 but the nation is in conflict. There are serious threats from China and there are many challenges flowing from the pandemic tha...

Greg Rogers - avatar Greg Rogers

Business News

InteliCare triple winner at prestigious national technology awards

InteliCare triple winner at prestigious national technology awards Intelicare wins each nominated category and takes out overall category at national technology 2020 iAwards. Company wins overal...

Media Release - avatar Media Release

Arriba Group Founder, Marcella Romero, wins CEO Magazine’s Managing Director of the Year

Founder and Managing Director of the Arriba Group, Marcella Romero, has won Managing Director of the Year at last night’s The CEO Magazine’s Executive of the Year Awards. The CEO Magazine's Ex...

Lanham Media - avatar Lanham Media

5 Tips For A Successful Blog Layout

There’s far more that goes into making a blog successful than simply having a way with words. How you display your content will have a huge impact on how easy it is to read, and whether people a...

Wayne Burden - avatar Wayne Burden



News Co Media Group

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion