Women severely under-pumped in heart attack treatment, study finds

Sep 21, 2021
Australian women are likely to receive worse treatment and care than men, whilst experiencing heart attack symptoms. Source: Getty

Women who experience a heart attack receive vastly different treatment to that of men, according to disturbing new research.

University of Sydney researchers have revealed that women who are diagnosed with unstable angina (a common heart attack) received ‘less evidence-based treatment’ than men.

The Medical Journal of Australia examined the medical records of nearly 7,800 patients who presented to any of the 43 hospitals included in the study.

To be included in the study, patients needed to have been diagnosed with either unstable angina, or hearts attacks, which were identified medically as non-ST elevation myocardial infarctions (non-STEMIs) during the period of the nine-year study, 2009 to 2018.

The Guardian reported “physician biases” were likely the cause of drastically difference experiences between men and women while seeking treatment for heart attacks, according to lead researcher David Brieger.

“Despite the way we think we’re practicing, we are still innately conservative and under-treating women for whatever reason,” Brieger said.

He said physicians need to be actively aware of the bias and treat patients accordingly.

According to the study, angiograms (one type of treatment for non-STEMIs), are given less commonly to female patients, and the women who did receive angiograms were given these much later than their male counterparts.

“We’re not sure whether that reflects the fact that they presented to hospital later, or the decision to do the angiogram was delayed in some way,” Brieger said.

The study found women were much less likely to receive a plethora of common treatments, including beta blockers, aspirin, anti-platelet drugs and statins – a cholesterol-reducing medication.

Women were also less likely to access cardiac rehabilitation, which is ‘very important in restoring (women) back to pre-event functional capacity’ and assuring better long-term outcomes.

While the symptoms of heart attack in men are commonly recognised, research has proven that heart attacks present with vastly different symptoms in women.

This results in many women shrugging off the warning signs as common health concerns, which puts them behind when accessing health advice. Learn the symptoms and arm yourself with knowledge that could save your life, or the life of someone you love. 


IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

Have you ever had a heart attack? What was your care experience like?

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