Women suffering heart problems are less likely to die if they see a female doctor, study finds
- Male doctors are more likely to miss danger signs in women who are admitted
- Women have harder-to-interpret heart attack symptoms compared to men
- More women died under male doctors than they did with under female
Women who have heart attacks are less likely to die if they see a female doctor.
A study found that 13.3 per cent died after being treated by a man, against 12 per cent of those treated by a woman.
Researchers believe that male doctors are more likely to miss danger signs in women who are admitted to casualty.
When men are having a heart attack, their chest pain tends to make it obvious. But a heart attack in women often starts with harder-to-interpret flu-like symptoms along with an aching jaw and spine.
A U.S study found that women with heart problems are less likely to die if they see a female doctor compared to a male one
The US study of nearly 582,000 heart attack victims was carried out by the University of Minnesota.
‘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.
‘The novel part of what we are doing is showing the benefit of having a female doctor is particularly stark for a female patient.’
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For heart attack patients, it is vital that they are given clot-busting drugs or a procedure to unblock their coronary artery as soon as possible. If doctors miss the signs it can be fatal.
The researchers reviewed heart attack cases in Florida from 1991 to 2010.
Under female doctors, 12 per cent of women died and 11.8 per cent of men.
But the gap grew starkly when the doctor was a man – 13.3 per cent of women died and 12.6 per cent 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.
Men who have a heart attack, their chest pain tends to make it obvious but a heart attack in women often starts with harder-to-interpret flu-like symptoms
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.
Dr Carnahan added: ‘There are two theories for why female doctors seems to perform better than male doctors, regardless of patient gender.
‘One is that women tend to be more conscientious as doctors and have more social intelligence, so could pick up on signs of a heart attack.
The other argument is that sex discrimination makes it harder for women to become doctors so those that do make it through the system are extremely talented.’
The study – published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences – concluded doctors needed more training in different male and female symptoms.
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