Women Wait Longer: Study Shows Gender Differences in Time to Coronary Care

Article excerpt

Time to coronary care slower for young women

--

TORONTO - Younger women experiencing a heart attack or other cardiac event wait longer for essential care in emergency rooms than men of a similar age, a new study suggests.

The research also found that both women and men who score as having more feminine traits on a standardized test wait longer for care as well.

The lead author of the study, Roxanne Pelletier, said the findings suggest younger people of both genders who go to hospital with suspected heart attacks need to be clear about their symptoms.

"Both men and women need to know that the way they present themselves and the way they report their symptoms may have an important influence on their access to care," said Pelletier, a clinical psychologist and post-doctoral fellow at McGill University Health Centre in Montreal.

"And so they need to know that they should be assertive when expressing their needs and reporting their symptoms. And they need to be concise and precise when reporting their symptoms."

If they are suffering from chest pain, that should be the first symptom they report, and the symptom they stress, Pelletier said.

The study was published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

It's well known that diagnosing heart attacks in older women can be more difficult than in older men, and that those women sometimes do not get the same level of care or the same speed of care that men do.

But less is known about younger adults who have cardiac events and whether sex or gender influences the speed of care they receive.

So Pelletier and colleagues set out to look at the question, enrolling 1,153 cardiac patients aged 18 to 55 between January 2009 and April 2013. A total of 24 Canadian hospitals, one Swiss hospital and one American hospital took part in the study.

Participants were people who were hospitalized after a cardiac event, with nurses gathering health information and conducting interviews to score them for feminine versus masculine traits and roles within 24 hours of the patient's admission to hospital.

The researchers wanted to see whether sex alone -- male or female -- appeared to be predictive of time to care or whether gender-related characteristics also might be influencing care. So they used a standard questionnaire to score patients on traits like shyness, gullibility, sensitivity to others and compassion.

They saw that regardless of sex, patients who presented with more typically feminine traits experienced longer delays and were less likely to receive some of the invasive procedures than patients who scored higher on the masculine traits side did. …