A recent study of U.S. hospitals found that women receiving hospital care because of heart attacks often are not provided with the proper treatment, and their chances of dying are higher than men if they experience a massive heart attack.
On the whole, women endure heart attacks about the same as men while under a hospital’s care, but the study revealed that there is a difference in treatment of gender when women experience the most severe type of heart attack. It was found that women receive less of the required medicines and procedures than men, and or it takes a longer period of time to acquire them.
To get this data, 420 hospitals were enrolled in an American Heart Association program. This program objective was to push doctors to observe guidelines for treating patients who have suffered from heart attacks. Past research has indicated that women’s heart attacks were cared for in a less aggressive fashion.
The heart association funded the new research and the results were reported in the group’s medical journal, Circulation, on Monday, December 8, 2008.
A cardiologist who specializes in women’s care, Dr. Nieca Goldberg, said that the study shows that women’s heart attack symptoms are often not being taken seriously.She also adds that women usually don’t have the typical symptoms such as chest pains. They often have pain in their lower bodies or extreme shortness of breath.
In the study, the treatment of 78,254 heart attack victims was observed to check if guidelines were followed and take into account how many of these patients died. The heart association’s”Get with the Guidelines” program require hospitals in the program to log this kind of information in a registry.
Concerning heart attacks overall, approximately the same amount of men and women died in the hospital, but when the most serious kind of heart attacks are taken into consideration, there is a significant difference.
These severe type of heart attacks are caused by a complete blockage of an artery, which keeps oxygen and blood from getting to the heart muscle and causes part of it to die. An electrocardiogram, a machine that finds distinctive changes, is used to do the diagnosis. Prompt action is required to open the artery to get the blood flowing again. This is done either with a clot-dissolving drug or an angioplasty.
In the study, about one-third of the heart attacks were severe. The rough numbers revealed that 10 percent of the women with massive heart attacks died in the hospital. About 6 percent were men. Once the women’s older ages and other differences were considered, the researchers came to the conclusion that the women in the study were 12 percent more likely than men to die of a severe heart attack while in the hospital. The researchers also revealed that women were not as likely as men to receive necessary medicines, such as an aspirin, within 24 hours, and they were less likely to receive treatment to restore blood flow, or it wasn’t provided quickly enough.
An important point was brought up by Dr. Laura Wexler, a researcher from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. She said that heart disease is usually thought of as a man’s disease, even though it is the leading cause of death in women.