Must women bring an advocate along so doctors will believe us?

by Carolyn Thomas    ♥   @HeartSisters

This week, three books and three bold messages about the problem with male-centric medicine:  In her book Sex Matters: How Male-Centric Medicine Endangers Women’s Health, Dr. Alyson McGregor defines male-centric medicine like this: medical research and medical practice based on models historically designed to work in men, while ignoring the unique biological/emotional differences between men and women. In fact, she writes that the male-centric model of medicine is now so pervasive in health care that many of us don’t even realize it exists:

“Women who experience severe pain often have trouble convincing the doctor treating them of how serious that pain is. The more women protest and try to convince the physician, the more their behaviour is perceived as hysterical. This perception can work against them in the Emergency Department.”

If that’s where you are, Dr. McGregor warns: “the best thing you can do as a woman is to bring an advocate with you to explain your symptoms.”         .   Continue reading “Must women bring an advocate along so doctors will believe us?”

How gender bias threatens women’s health

by Carolyn Thomas    ♥   @HeartSisters

I attended the 64th annual Canadian Cardiovascular Congress not as a participant, but with media accreditation in order to report on the proceedings for my blog readers.  I arrived at the gorgeous Vancouver Convention Centre feeling excited to interview as many of the cardiac researchers attending this conference as I could squeeze into my 2-day schedule – particularly all the ones studying women’s heart disease.  I was gobsmacked, however, when conference organizers in the Media Centre told me on my first day that, out of hundreds of cardiology papers being presented that year, I’d be able to “count on one hand” the number of those studies that had anything even remotely to do with the subject of women and heart disease. Essentially, that appalling gender gap then became the Big Story of the conference for me. And every one of those four lonely little studies shared a conclusion that I already knew: when it comes to heart disease, women fare worse than men do.*  See also: The Sad Reality of Women’s Heart Disease Hits Home.

But already, I can tell that this weekend’s annual Congress (once again back in Vancouver) should do better.  This year, the 192-page conference program lists over a dozen studies reporting specifically on women’s experience of heart disease.(1)  Sounds good – until you remember that it’s a puny drop in the bucket for an international conference where over 500 original new scientific papers are being presented about a diagnosis that has killed more women than men every year since 1984. Continue reading “How gender bias threatens women’s health”

Cardiac gender bias: we need less TALK and more WALK

by Carolyn Thomas  ♥  @HeartSisters

News flash! Yet another new cardiac study from yet another group of respected Montréal researchers has been published in yet another medical journal suggesting that (…wait for it!) women receive poorer care during a heart attack compared to our male counterparts.(1)

As my irreverent Mayo Clinic heart sister Laura Haywood-Cory (who survived a heart attack at age 40 caused by Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection) once observed in response to a 2011 Heart Sisters post:

“We really don’t need yet another study that basically comes down to: Sucks to be female. Better luck next life!’, do we?”

Well, Laura – apparently we do.  Because those studies just keep on coming.         . Continue reading “Cardiac gender bias: we need less TALK and more WALK”

Heart disease – not just a man’s disease anymore

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

Tragically, women may still come up short when it comes to the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease. Mayo Clinic’s Dr. Sharonne Hayes, cardiologist and founder of the Mayo Women’s Heart Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota spoke recently to staff from WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women With Heart Disease

Learn more here about why the inequities of this cardiology gender gap continue, and how women can empower themselves and others to achieve equal and quality care for their hearts:  Continue reading “Heart disease – not just a man’s disease anymore”

Biology or bias? Women twice as likely to die after heart attack

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The CBC (our Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) did a report this week about women and heart disease that included an interview with Dr. Beth Abramson, a Toronto cardiologist and spokesperson for the Heart and Stroke Foundation.  She was responding to results of a new study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association that suggests women are almost twice as likely to die within 30 days of a heart attack compared with men. Dr. Abramson said:

“It’s sometimes hard to sort out if there is a difference in biology between men and women, or if there is a gender bias.

The study’s lead author, Dr. Jeffrey Berger of New York University Medical Center, votes for biology.   Continue reading “Biology or bias? Women twice as likely to die after heart attack”