Thursday, 16 August, 2018

Women doctors 'best for female heart attack patients'

Male doctors are believed to misdiagnose heart problems for women or underestimate their risks Male doctors are believed to misdiagnose heart problems for women or underestimate their risksPeopleimages Getty
Celia Hoffman | 08 August, 2018, 05:04

Women suffering heart attacks in hospital emergency rooms in the United States are more likely to die if their doctor is a man than a woman, warned a study Monday.

A female patient is also more likely to survive if a male doctor has recently treated more female patients, who may have had similar symptoms. "But, if the survival rate among the female heart attack patients treated by male doctors was the same as the survival rate among female heart attack patients treated by female doctors, about 1500-3000 fewer of the female heart attack patients in our sample would have passed away".

Medical practitioners should be aware of the possible challenges male providers face when treating female AMI patients-for example, a propensity among women to delay seeking treatment and the presentation of symptoms that differ from those of men.

The figures suggest a woman would have 5.4 per cent less chance of dying from a heart attack if treated by a doctor of the same sex. According to 2016 American Heart Association statement, 26 percent of women will die within a year of a heart attack compared with just 19 percent of men.

It can not prove it was the presence of female doctors that caused the improved survival rates. In fact, the patients treated by female doctors were more likely to survive than anyone else.

Men might be worse at communicating with female patients, causing them to misread the severity of the heart attack.

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The solution may be simply to add more female doctors in emergency departments, researchers argued. Furthermore, heart attacks can often present differently in men and woman. These more atypical symptoms can include shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, and back or jaw pain.

'Our work corroborates prior research showing that female doctors tend to produce better patient outcomes than male doctors, ' said Seth Carnahan, a co-author of the study from Washington University in St Louis. "Readers should know that women may be experiencing a heart attack, despite not experiencing chest pain". This statistic does not signal well to gender equality in medicine or young women considering the specialty-and it may have even darker implications for patients. Female doctors are more likely to speak with their patients longer and provide more evidence-based care than their male colleagues, Tsugawa says.

Rather than rely on women to act as test dummies for inexperienced doctors, though, it'd better to just stock our emergency rooms and health care centres with more women doctors. "It seems that the female doctors practice in a better way or outperform male doctors", says the JAMA study's first author, Yusuke Tsugawa, an assistant professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California, Los Angeles. For one thing, doctors may not be spending the time to realize that men and women may have different symptoms, and women may have more subtle symptoms, she said.

At the same time, the authors stop short of advocating that patients necessarily ask for their doctors to match their gender.

"The novel part of what we are doing is showing that the benefit of having a female doctor is particularly stark for a female patient". "Patients should be sure that the doctor, regardless of gender, is taking seriously their concerns".

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