Still, women are disproportionately affected by the under- and misdiagnosis of heart disease. Stories of women who present to hospitals with heart attack symptoms and are subsequently abandoned by the medical staff are unfortunately common.
It has been a hard road for me as a professor of cardiac science with 40 years of expertise to get to the root of the issue, which is a mix of professional, systemic, and technical prejudices. Though previously difficult to do so on a micro level, we can now examine the consequences at a macro level by looking at patterns across many patients’ experiences.
In cases of a heart attack, a misdiagnosis is fatally often, and the risk is increased by 50% for women. Initial misdiagnosis increases mortality risk by 70%. For heart procedures including valve replacements and peripheral revascularization, the most recent research has indicated that women fare worse than men.
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Women are less likely to receive a correct diagnosis, the best surgical treatment, and the optimal combination of medications before being released from the hospital. Although none of this can be justified, is it at least comprehensible?
It’s “unexpected” to observe a woman having a heart attack because, as the first rationale goes, women don’t get heart disease as often as males. Women may be more likely to ignore the warning signs of a heart attack since they don’t believe they would experience one. Although I frequently hear reasons from professionals, I remain unconvinced.
Though it may be true that younger women have a reduced incidence of heart disease, this condition is by no means uncommon. Every year, around 30,000 women in the UK are hospitalized after suffering a heart attack. The ratio of women to men with heart disease in younger age groups is lower than in older age groups but nevertheless hovers at 3 to 5 for every 10 males.
During their careers, general practitioners may only see one or two instances of meningitis. Overall, heart disease accounts for roughly 21% of women’s deaths, second only to cancer. In men, heart disease accounts for 24% of deaths. Seeing a female patient in casualty with heart problems is not an unusual occurrence for doctors.
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