Equality regarding heart attack care

By Morgan Sherburne • Published: June 20th, 2014
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

When it comes to gender equality, equal pay is not the only thing women have to worry about. Studies show that women might also be at risk for not receiving treatment for heart attacks as quickly as men do.

Turns out, whoever is doing the chores at home could be receiving the shorter end of the broomstick when they arrive at the hospital for heart trouble.

According to research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, women and men who exhibit traditional feminine traits, such as doing most of the household cleaning, receive cardiac care more slowly than traditionally masculine men.

The researchers surveyed 1,123 patients between the ages of 18 and 55. All the study participants had faced acute coronary symptoms. Both men and women filled out a survey that asked questions about masculine and feminine traits as well as questions about health status, education level and household chores.

Researchers found that men received electrocardiograms 15 minutes after they entered the hospital while women waited 21 minutes after being admitted to the hospital. Men received access to treatment to prevent blood clots after 28 minutes while women waited 36 minutes. Among men, those exhibiting more feminine traits also faced treatment delays similar to women.

The surveys also showed that women were more likely to report higher anxiety and depression levels than men.

Anxiety in women could affect their wait for care. Those having anxiety attacks often have symptoms similar to heart problems, including rapid heartbeat, chest pressure or pain and shortness of breath. Because of this, medical staff may not think women are actually having heart problems. The researchers also noted that fewer young women have cardiac trouble than young men.

The study calls for staff to be more attentive to all patients, treating women or men with the same amount of care.