Women are currently at a much higher risk of dying from heart attacks than men. The news relates not so much to physiological differences but more to the way male and female patients are managed in hospitals.
The news about the higher risk factors for women comes from a study presented at the 2012 Acute Cardiac Care Congress. The study found significant differences in the management and outcome of the condition according to gender.
The study, outlined in Hospital Pharmacy, found that women were shown to experience longer delays between symptom onset and calling for medical assistance, and between admission and reperfusion (tissue damage caused when blood supply returns to the tissue after a period without oxygen). Furthermore, the results indicated that intra-hospital mortality was higher among women.
The figures relating to hospital stays are the result of women tending to suffer from more complications and because they often end up having longer hospital stays.
Referring to the study, Dr Guillaume Leurent, from the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire in Rennes, France, is quoted by the Daily Mail as saying:
“These results suggest that women need to be more vigilant about chest pains and request medical help quickly to reduce ischemic time ([duration the heart muscle is starved of oxygen). Women may take longer to call an ambulance when they have chest pains because they don't believe it can be a myocardial infarction (heart attack). Most women believe myocardial infarction is a male problem.
“Many doctors still think myocardial infarction is a male problem. Campaigns are needed to increase awareness in doctors and the public about the problem in women. Doctors need to be more careful in the management of women to further reduce ischemic time.”
The data included in the study comes from the Orbi patient registry, which includes 5,000 myocardial infarction patients from the Brittany region of France.
The results will have implications of the management of heart conditions. The Women’s Heart Foundation points out that, worldwide, 8.6 million women die from heart disease each year, accounting for a third of all deaths in women.