Men receive faster care for heart attacks than women

Gender may play a role in how quickly a person receives treatment for a heart attack. Research published in Canadian Medical Association Journal says health professionals tend treat men for suspected heart attacks more aggressively than they do women.

Researchers from McGill University Health Centre in Montréal analyzed 1,123 patients between the ages of 18 and 55 years old from the U.S., Canada and Switzerland. In this group, 32 percent were women and 68 percent were men. The median age was 50 for women and 49 for men. After being admitted to the hospital, the individuals filled out a survey on gender norms.

Men had electrocardiograms (ECGs) and fibrinolysis much faster than women. Men typically received ECGs within15 minutes, whereas women received them within 21 minutes. Men received fibrinolysis within 28 minutes compared to women’s 36 minutes.

Why the difference? One researcher noted women tend to have more anxiety than men with noncardiac chest pain. Also, heart attack rates are lower in women than men. As a result, hospital staff may initially dismiss a cardiac event in women. The study also found that both men and women with feminine traits were more likely to wait longer for treatment compared to those with masculine traits.

However, a few things may have skewed the results. Patients with missing data were excluded from the study, reducing the sample size. Also, the sample size was smaller because the selection involved only survivors of acute coronary syndrome.

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