More women heart patients survive with female doctor

Women more likely to survive heart attack if treated by female doctor – study

Women more likely to survive heart attack if treated by female doctor – study

They also found that, even if a woman was treated by a male doctor, she was more likely to survive if the emergency department had a high number of women doctors who had previously treated heart attack patients working on it. Dr Brad Greenwood, associate professor of association and decision sciences at the university, suggested that the stereotype of heart attack victims as overweight, middle-aged men may contribute to the outcome.

Much like shoes or skinny jeans, heart attacks can fit women a little differently than men. So if a doctor is affected by that notion, he might not take complaints from female patients as seriously-especially since heart attack symptoms in women can be different from those in men. The researchers analyzed a Florida Agency for Health Care Administration database containing every heart attack case from every ER in the state (excluding Veterans Affairs hospitals) between 1991 and 2010.

Maureen Talbot, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said previous research from the charity had already shown a "worrying difference" in the treatment given to men and women suffering from heart attacks.

When patients were treated by male doctors, 12.6pc of men died compared with 13.3pc of women - a difference of 0.7pc. Even accounting for these factors, the team found female patients were less likely to survive heart attacks than male patients and that gender differences in survival rates were the highest under male physicians.

Matching female doctors to female patients "reduced the probability of death by 5.4 per cent, relative to this baseline", it said.

"These results suggest a reason why gender inequality in heart attack mortality persists: Most physicians are male, and male physicians appear to have trouble treating female patients", the team writes. "Spurious signals sometimes come up [in research], so this should be replicated", she says. It's important that we better understand what is causing this variation in care, and the BHF is already funding research in to how we can improve the outcomes of women who have a heart attack. "There have definitely been several studies that have shown that women are slower to be diagnosed, and that might be explained by the fact that women are more likely to have "atypical' symptoms", O'Donoghue notes. And male physicians could learn a thing or two from our female colleagues about how to achieve better outcomes". And, according to a new study, that's partly because of how women are treated-and the gender of the doctors who treat them.

First, heart disease is often thought of as a "male" condition.

Given that male doctors' performance improved as they worked with and treated more women, it would make sense to add more women to the ER. Given the cost of male physicians' learning on the job, it may be more effective to increase the presence of female physicians in the emergency department. "It could be you have spillover between physicians", he says. Or you have assistance: "A female colleague cues him into what's going on".

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