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Men treated better than women after heart attacks, study finds

Wednesday 10th January 2018
Men typically receive a better standard of treatment than women following a heart attack, according to new research. Image: Ben-Schonewille via iStock
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Significant disparities in the treatment received by men and women following a heart attack have been uncovered in a new study.

An investigation carried out by scientists based at the University of Leeds and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden found that women were 34 per cent less likely than men to receive treatments designed to unblock their arteries, such as having stents fitted or undergoing bypass surgery, after they had suffered a heart attack.

The study monitored the care given to 180,036 Swedish heart attack patients in total, over a ten-year period. The researchers believe their findings to be indicative of heart attack care standards across Europe, including in the UK.

It was also found that women who have had a heart attack are on average 24 per cent less likely to be prescribed statins as part of their aftercare in a bid to reduce their risk of a further attack.

What's more, they were 16 per cent less likely to be prescribed aspirin to prevent the occurrence of subsequent blood clots.

As a result, the long-term prognosis following a heart attack is not as good for women as it is for men. Part of the study involved its authors measuring outcomes for both genders when all three recommended treatments were given, and it was found that the gap in prognosis and mortality risk decreased significantly.

However, aside from gender biases leading some to believe heart attacks are more of a risk for males, the researchers cannot provide an explanation as to why the disparity in care is so great, and are calling for immediate change.

Professor Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director of the British Heart Foundation, which provided funding for the study, commented: "Heart attacks are often seen as a male health issue, but more women die from coronary heart disease than breast cancer in the UK.

"We urgently need to raise awareness of this issue, as it's something that can be easily changed. By simply ensuring more women receive the recommended treatments, we'll be able to help more families avoid the heartbreak of losing a loved one to heart disease."

Written by Mathew Horton

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