Wednesday, 14 November, 2018

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

Women with heart attacks more likely to die when treated by men Women with heart attacks more likely to die when treated by men
Samantha Long | 09 August, 2018, 13:26

The team also found women were more likely to survive if the emergency department had a higher proportion of female doctors who had treated heart attacks - a trend particularly strong if the woman was being treated by a male doctor.

However, the team found that when patients shared the same gender as their doctor, they were more likely to survive, with the probability of death falling by just over 0.6 percentage points once factors including the patients' age, other health problems, the physician, and hospital-specific differences were taken into account.

Dr Carnahan added: 'There are two theories for why female doctors seems to perform better than male doctors, regardless of patient gender. To be safe, they excluded any ambiguously-named physicians from their analysis.

When patients were treated by male doctors, 12.6% of men died compared with 13.3% of women. In fact, the patients treated by female doctors were more likely to survive than anyone else. But the authors do toss out some educated guesses.

Despite cardiovascular disease being the leading cause of mortality in American women, there is a societal stigma that heart attacks affect men rather than women. For one thing, doctors may not be spending the time to realize that men and women may have different symptoms, and women may have more subtle symptoms, she said.

That's because more and more studies are coming to the same conclusion: Female doctors produce better outcomes than men. They extrapolated their findings a bit, and concluded that some 32,000 lives would be saved if male physicians could achieve the same outcomes as female physicians every year.

The researchers found that male physicians appear to have trouble treating female patients. Less obvious signs - like shortness of breath or neck pain - can occur, too.

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During the almost two-decade study timeframe, roughly 1.3 million heart attacks occurred among Florida's 20 million residents.

During a heart attack, women are less likely to experience chest pain, and are more likely to present with nausea and vomiting. This statistic does not signal well to gender equality in medicine or young women considering the specialty-and it may have even darker implications for patients.

The study's findings do suggest some tangible ways to improve care. Specifically, a study found that patients who were treated by female doctors had lower mortality and readmission rates.

"There's relatively deep streams of literature in economics, political science, and sociology that suggest when advocates differ from the people they advocate for, there are often penalties", said lead author Brad Greenwood of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management. "We do see improvement as they spend time in practice", Greenwood said.

Doctors of any gender want to save patient lives and improve care for everyone.

"There are big distributions in what we observe in the data: Some male doctors are better at treating female patients than some female doctors are", said Carnahan.

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