Women slower to receive treatment for heart attacks, study finds

Women slower to receive treatment for heart attacks, study finds

WOMEN who have a heart attack are more likely to have delayed treatment, be deemed of needing less urgent help, report different symptoms and have a greater chance of dying than men, new research has found.

The Melbourne researchers who uncovered this gender gap are now combing the case notes of more than 600 Victorian cardiac patients to work out what women aren’t getting treatment fast enough, so a predictive model can be developed to prevent them from slipping through the cracks.

Alfred Deakin post-doctoral research fellow Dr Lisa Kuhn, from the Centre for Quality and Patient Safety Research at Deakin University, led a retrospective study into the experience and outcome of almost 300 patients who attended a major emergency department with early acute coronary syndrome.

Dr Kuhn found that women waited almost double the recommended 10 minutes from arrival to having their first electrocardiogram after arriving in the emergency department. Women were also less likely to be admitted to the specialist coronary care unit than men.

And while women typically didn’t report having the same symptoms as men experience after heart attack, the study found that chest pain was the main symptom for both genders.

“We’ve grown up thinking it’s going to look like the “Hollywood heart attack” that blokes have with the central heavy crushing chest pain, they go pale and clammy and fall to the floor,” Dr Kuhn said.

“For women it will more often be a general pain, more pain in the jaw and down the arm, and related to extreme fatigue and shortness of breath.

“But time is muscle. Every minute we get them faster to us the better.”

The findings were published in the Australasian Emergency Nursing Journal.

Dr Kuhn is now looking at patient records from nine Victorian hospitals testing whether individual patient data such as symptoms, weight, family history and past medical history can help predict who needs the most urgent treatment.

Nicole Surbevski, 39, was having the trademark heart attack symptoms of nausea, chest and arm pain and sweats when she collapsed at home last year putting her two children to bed. But not she, her husband or even the paramedics suspected that blood flow to her heart was blocked.

“I have nothing to suggest in my medical history or my lifestyle as to why I had an 80 per cent blockage in my artery,” Ms Surbevski said.

“There needs to be more awareness for younger people who don’t have the risk factors.”


Originally Published on Herald Sun