For women older than 65, heart attacks are the leading cause of death and account for more than half of all heart attacks. A new study now claims that it’s a matter of life or death when it comes to a woman having a heart attack and being seen by a female physician.
Associate professor of:
- Harvard Business School Laura Huang
- Brad Greenwood of the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
- Seth Carnahan of Washington University in St. Louis
are publishing their findings in the article, Patient-Physician Gender Concordance and Increased Mortality Among Female Heart Attack Patients, set to be released next week.
“More than 500,000 heart attack patients admitted to hospital emergency departments in Florida between 1991 and 2010, female patients treated by male physicians were less likely to survive than patients of either gender treated by female physicians or male patients treated by male physicians,” stated in the press release.
The researchers found that male physicians appear to have trouble treating female patients. Livestrong states that heart attacks in women can sometimes be difficult to diagnose because many women don’t believe they are having a heart attack and don’t experience the same symptoms as men.
“Although mortality rates for female patients treated by male physicians decrease as the male physician treats more female patients, this decrease may come at the expense of earlier female patients. Given the cost of male physicians' learning on the job, it may be more effective to increase the presence of female physicians in the emergency department.
There is still more work to be done between Huang and her colleagues, to understand the precise mechanism as to why gender concordance appears critical for female patients.