Women more likely to die of heart attack if doctor is male

Women more likely to die of heart attack if doctor is male

Should women request physicians of the same gender?

Women who suffer a heart attack have a higher chance of survival if they are treated by a female doctor, according to a United States study.

Huang and her colleagues also found that women with heart attacks are, on the whole, less likely to survive than men.

Studies have shown that diagnosing the symptoms of a heart attack is more hard to do in women. In this case, 11.8% of men died compared with 12% of women.

If you're having a heart attack and you're a woman, hope a female doctor greets you in the emergency room.

Carnahan, along with study authors Brad N. Greenwood, PhD, MBA, Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Minneapolis, MN, and Laura Huang, PhD, MBA, Harvard Business School, Harvard University, Boston, MA, used data from patients admitted to Florida hospitals for acute myocardial infarction from 1991 to 2010. "If they are concerned that they may be having a heart attack they should ask the treating physician - man or woman - if they have had an appropriate evaluation to determine this, and if not, why not". Therefore, the male doctors might assume the heart attack symptoms experienced by female patients is similar to that of male patients.

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When patients were treated by male doctors, 12.6% of men died compared with 13.3% of women.

The figures suggest a woman would have 5.4 per cent less chance of dying from a heart attack if treated by a doctor of the same sex. "Something about the female experience when she's being treated by a male doctor" is linked to these deaths, she says.

Researchers found that the more women a male doctor treated in his life, the less likely his female patients were to die. While it's clear that male physicians are better at taking care of men with heart attacks than women, "it's harder to tell if female physicians have no such gender disparity because their numbers are so small". As a result, women's symptoms went underappreciated, their medical problems were misdiagnosed, and their lives hung in the balance.

Female doctors may also simply be performing at least some parts of the job better than their male counterparts do.

First, heart disease is often thought of as a "male" condition. That could mean that "female patients are more comfortable advocating for themselves with a female physician" or that "male physicians aren't getting all the cues they need to make the diagnosis" when dealing with female patients, he said. While women enter medical school at the same rate as men, they experience higher rates of both burnout and suicide during their time in the field, and men are more likely to advance to higher positions - both largely attributable to gender bias. But the difference diminished when male doctors worked in emergency rooms with a higher percentage of female physicians. "It could be you have spillover between physicians", he says.

"The key takeaway is that male physicians appear to have trouble treating female patients", Greenwood said.

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