The Gender Divide in Heart Attack Care

Female heart attack patients were slower to get medical care than men

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Different people react in different ways during a health crisis, and when it comes to heart attacks, these differences may fall along gender lines.

A new study looked at care following heart attacks and found that women were slower than men to receive health care after symptoms developed.

"Pre-hospital delays remain unacceptably long in women, and time matters," said lead study author Raffaele Bugiardini, MD, a cardiology professor at the University of Bologna in Italy, in a press release.

In this new study, Dr. Bugiardini and team looked at data from the International Survey of Acute Coronary Syndromes in Transitional Countries from the years 2010 to 2014. These researchers looked at nearly 7,500 heart attack patients.

After studying these patients' cases, Dr. Bugiardini and team found significant differences between the genders in terms of heart attack care.

Women had a longer time delay between the onset of symptoms and calling emergency medical services. Men had a median delay of 55 minutes. Women had a median delay of 60 minutes.

Among women, 70.3 percent had a delay of over 60 minutes between their home and the hospital, while the same was true for only 29.7 percent of men.

These researchers explained that a heart attack treatment called reperfusion therapy — which helps to get blood flowing through blocked arteries — should be started less than 12 hours after symptoms develop. While this was the case in 80.4 percent of the men in this study, it was only true for 76 percent of the women.

Women were more likely than men to die in the hospital following a heart attack, Dr. Bugiardini and colleagues found.

"Our findings should set off an alarm for women, who may not understand their personal risk of heart disease and may take more time to realize they are having a heart attack and need urgent medical help," Dr. Bugiardini said.

This study will be presented March 14 at the American College of Cardiology's 64th Annual Scientific Sessions in San Diego. Research presented at conferences may not have been peer-reviewed.

Funding and conflict of interest information was not available at the time of publication.

Review Date: 
March 7, 2015
Last Updated:
March 9, 2015