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Women heart patients suffer from worse care - study

Friday November 23rd, 2018

Thousands of women have died in England and Wales because the care they receive in cardiovascular crisis is not as good as provided to men, researchers claim today.

The differences in treatment account for some 8,200 deaths of women over ten years, according to the analysis, published in the journal Heart.

Researchers at Leeds University found that 30-day mortality rates for women who suffered myocardial infarction were twice as high as those for men – 5.2% compared with 2.3%.

Some 24.7% of women with NSTEMI received timely coronary angiography compared with 36.7% of men.

There was a significant but much smaller gender difference in the care of patients with STEMI.

The study showed that women tended to be older than men when they fell ill and the findings were adjusted for this.

The researchers studied the care of nearly 700,000 people in the decade up to 2010.

The researchers say the differences in care do not explain all the difference in survival rate – suggesting that age and willingness to seek help may also play a part.

Researcher Professor Chris Gale said: “We know women are dying due to unequal heart attack care – and now we’ve identified the shortfalls we need to target to save lives.

“For example, women not receiving coronary angiography when they arrive at hospital puts them at a disadvantage right from the start, and has knock on effects creating further shortfalls down the line. In isolation the differences may appear small, but even in a high performing health system like the UK, small deficits in care across a population add up to reveal a much larger problem and a significant loss of life.”

He added: “We also show that not all differences are down to bias – some are down to biology. Only with more research can we hope to better understand how to target biology and best treat heart attacks in women.”

British Heart Foundation medical director Professor Sir Nilesh Samani said: “We need to tackle the false perception that heart attacks are only a male health issue. This leads to inadequate care for women – both at the time of and after heart attacks – with fatal consequences.”

And Baroness Judith Jolly, a health spokesperson in the House of Lords, added: “Sadly this is not new information. For years we have known that women are not receiving the same care for heart attacks as men, now we know to what extent.

“There needs to be more understanding that heart attacks present differently in women then in men.”

* The life expectancy of England’s poorest women has fallen since 2011, according to an analysis published today in the Lancet Public Health.

This contributed to a widening gap in life expectancy between the richest and the poorest, according to researchers at Imperial College, London. In 2001 this stood at 6.1 years for women but reached 7.9 years in 2016.

Overall the reduction in life expectancy for the poorest women was about three months.

The findings came from a population-based analysis of registration data.

Researcher Professor Majid Ezzati said: “We currently have a perfect storm of factors that can impact on health, and that are leading to poor people dying younger.”

Heart 23 November 2018;

Contributions of diseases and injuries to widening life expectancy inequalities in England from 2001 to 2016: a population-based analysis of vital registration data. Lancet Public Health 23 November 2018;

Tags: A&E | Heart Health | NHS | UK News | Women's Health & Gynaecology

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