Women more likely to die of heart attack if doctor is male

Illustration of men and women and their hearts

"The fact that gender concordance (that is, men treating men or women treating women) correlates with whether a patient survives a heart attack has implications for theory and practice". "Getting to an ER in a timely fashion is likely to matter more than the gender of one's physician".

"Given the cost of male physicians' learning on the job, it may be more effective to increase the presence of female physicians". Women are less likely to survive in the years following a heart attack and it could be because of how they are treated.

Their chances were also improved if treated by a male doctor who had a lot of female colleagues in his team.

"These results", they write, "suggest a reason why gender inequality in heart attack mortality persists: Most physicians are male, and male physicians appear to have trouble treating female patients".

She said: "The stereotypical heart attack patient is often thought to be a middle-aged man with a poor lifestyle".

"For example, a propensity among women to delay seeking treatment and the presentation of symptoms that differ from those of men".

Women who have a heart attack are more likely to survive if they are treated by a female doctor in hospital, a major United States study suggests. They found that female patients treated by male physicians were less likely to survive compared with patients of either gender treated by female physicians or male patients treated by male physicians.

That's because more and more studies are coming to the same conclusion: Female doctors produce better outcomes than men. In a rousing editorial, Healy lamented that decades of research that focused nearly entirely on men had "reinforced the myth that coronary heart disease is a uniquely male affliction and generated data sets in which men are the normative standard".

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The figures suggest a woman would have 5.4 per cent less chance of dying from a heart attack if treated by a doctor of the same sex.

One problem is that most doctors are male, so matching female doctors to female patients just isn't possible much of the time.

"Even though lives should be equally saved, we are seeing this pervasive difference", says study co-author Laura Huang, a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School.

To put some numbers on these differences, the survival rate for men treated by female doctors is 88.1 percent, compared with 86.6 percent for women treated by male doctors-a reduction of 1.5 percentage points.

Also, given the gender bias in outcomes, hospital administrators may also want to narrow the pay gap between male and female doctors.

The new study highlights the importance of having "a strong female physician workforce", said Jennifer Haythe, co-director of Columbia Women's Heart Centre at the Columbia University Medical Centre. "It could be you have spillover between physicians", he says.

Researchers found that disparity could be explained by the gender of the doctor treating them, according to a study this month in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "I would hope that in reading this leaders in emergency medicine-whether directors or department chairs-would consider that we are an asset beyond being a diverse workforce".

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