A new study appearing in the November 15 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology says that female patients with cardiovascular symptoms are less likely than men to receive proper care and are often under-treated.
These conclusions were arrived after Canadian researchers conducted a 28-country study involving more than 12,000 men and women. The study says that women at high-risk for coronary disease were often back at hospitals within a year due to the failure to get adequate treatment the first time around. As compared to men, women "don't have a higher rate of heart attack, stroke or death, but they do have increased rates for refraction [treatment-resistant disease] and for unstable angina," said lead author Dr. Sonia Anand, an associate professor of medicine, McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. "They haven't been fixed."
The study utilized data from another study that Anand had worked on. This study called the Clopidogrel in Unstable Angina to Prevent Recurrent Events (CURE) trial had tracked 4,800 women and 7,700 men from 28 countries who had been to the hospital for treatment of heart disease between 1998 and 2000. All the patients had been diagnosed with acute coronary syndrome (ACS). The women in the study had significantly higher rates of diabetes, hypertension and cholesterol levels, while the men were mainly smokers.
The researchers found that less than 15 percent of the women were given adequate tests including coronary angiography -- an imaging technique that visualizes the blood vessels or chambers of the heart to check if there are any blockages. It was also found that women were 35 percent less likely than men to undergo angioplasty or coronary artery bypass surgery. Both these procedures restore the blood flow to the heart. "By not doing more coronary angiography in the high-risk group of women, we're under-treating women who would benefit from it," Anand concluded.
The findings were also presented at the at the American Medical Association's 24th annual Science Reporters Conference in Washington, D.C on Thursday.