Thousands of women are needlessly dying from heart attacks because they receive worse care than men, a major study has found.
Poor treatment contributed to the deaths of more than 8,200 women in England and Wales over a ten-year period, the research reveals. It found many people – doctors and patients alike – assume heart disease is a male problem, while women are more likely to put heart attack symptoms down to minor problems such as indigestion or muscle pain, and delay seeking help.
But even when they do get to hospital, doctors often misdiagnose the problem, meaning women are twice as likely as men to have their heart attack initially missed.
That in itself can be fatal, because every minute treatment is delayed decreases survival chances. Study leader Professor Chris Gale, a consultant cardiologist at Leeds University, said:
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‘There is still this misperception that men have heart attacks and women do not. If you miss an opportunity to treat at the beginning, those may have a knock-on impact later.’