Last week, the disturbing results of a study on women and heart disease were released, attracting media headlines like Women and Heart Disease: New Data Reaffirms Lack of Awareness By Women and Physicians. I had to go have a wee lie-down after I read this paper in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.(1)
The study’s lead author, cardiologist Dr. Noel Bairey Merz, of Cedars Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles, announced that “increasing awareness of cardiovascular disease in women has stalled with no major progress in almost 10 years”, and (far more intensely disturbing, in my opinion): “Little progress has been made in the last decade in increasing physician awareness or use of evidence-based guidelines to care for female heart patients.”
No wonder I had to lie down. But taking to one’s bed in response to yet another discouraging study about cardiology’s gender gap is no longer enough. Perhaps it’s time for female heart patients like me to simply throw our collective hands in the air while banging our heads against the nearest wall. Continue reading “Excuse me while I bang my head against this wall…”
by Carolyn Thomas ♥ @HeartSisters
True or false? Every year, more women die of heart disease than men.
The answer is true, but if you didn’t know it, you’re in good company. In a survey of 500 American doctors (100 cardiologists, 100 obstetrician/gynecologists, and 300 family practice physicians) led by cardiologist Dr. Lori Mosca, only 8% of family doctors knew this fact, but – even more astonishing – only 17% of cardiologists were aware of it.
When it comes to women and heart disease, ignorance can be deadly. The misconception that heart disease is mostly a ‘man’s disease’ is one reason that women continue to be misdiagnosed or receive delayed treatment when experiencing symptoms of heart disease.
Dr. Mosca, Professor of Medicine and Director of Preventive Cardiology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, explains that women patients often report that their complaints were dismissed or that they were “blown off” by their doctors when they presented with heart disease symptoms. Studies show that there is a gender bias out there that women need to be aware of.
” Our own research has shown that physicians are more likely to label a woman at lower risk for heart disease than a man with the same calculated level of heart disease risk.” Continue reading “Women missing the beat: are doctors ignoring women’s cardiac symptoms?”
by Carolyn Thomas ♥ @HeartSisters
At the WomenHeart Science & Leadership Symposium last fall, Mayo Clinic cardiologists told us that, when it comes to women, heart disease is much more than an equal opportunity health threat. Women with heart disease are underdiagnosed (and undertreated even when accurately diagnosed) compared to men presenting with the same condition. And we also have more deadly outcomes compared to men.
Did you know that more women than men die of heart disease each year in North America? What I found particularly appalling was a 2005 American Heart Association study that found only 8% of family doctors were aware of this fact, and (even worse!) only 17% of cardiologists were aware.
Here are some other examples that may help to explain gender bias in diagnosis and treatment of women’s heart disease: Continue reading “Women’s cardiac care: is it gender difference – or gender bias?”