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Doctors Disappointed By Gender Gap In Heart Care

By: Mark Tenia Email
By: Mark Tenia Email

December 9, 2008

Doctors are disappointed with new findings by the American Heart Association showing a gender gap among patients who have suffered major heart attacks.

"Since 1984 more women than men have died each year of heart problems but there's still is this societal misperception that it's a disease of men," said Amy Tucker, UVa associate professor of cardiac medicine.

That's one of the reasons doctors say may be the cause of a gender gap between men and women patients who suffer serious heart attacks.

"We've known for a couple of years now that the treatment of men and women despite our best intentions, sometimes turns out to be different," said Dr. Josh Fischer, director of the cardiac cath lab at Martha Jefferson Hospital.

A new study of over 400 hospitals, showed a gender divide in care. With 10% of women dying in hospitals after suffering a major heart attack, compared to 6% of men.

"There's still a difference not only in how many of those women will die but also in how they're treated," said Tucker.

"We know that now that heart disease kills more women per year than men but it's still often seen in our society as a men's disease," said Fischer.

Doctors say that in order to close that gap, doctors and women need to be more educated.

"Providers need to be on the lookout of heart disease in women and women also need to be aware of those things," said Tucker.

And while the medical industry has made some progress, doctors say there's still work to be done.

"So the good news is that it's improving but the bad news is that we still have a long way to go," said Tucker.

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