- Women are more likely to die from a heart attack if they’re treated by a male doctor, and more likely to survive if they’re treated by a female doctor, according to a new study.
- The study, published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, looked at data from more than 500,000 heart attack patients in Florida hospitals.
- The study couldn’t determine the reason for this gap, but it’s good to remember that women may have different heart attack symptoms than men.
Women who have heart attacks are more likely to die if their emergency room doctor is male, but more likely to live if their doctor is female, according to a new study published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The study analyzed records from more than 500,000 heart attack patients admitted to hospitals in Florida between 1991 and 2010. The authors looked at each patient’s outcome and used doctors‘ names to infer their gender. (Doctors with gender-ambiguous names were eliminated.)
The data showed that:
- Overall, 11.9% of patients died because of their heart attack
- Women treated by female doctors had higher survival rates than women treated by male doctors
- When under the care of a female doctor, both men and women had similar outcomes
- Women treated by male doctors were 1.52% less likely to survive, compared to women treated by women
That shift might seem small, but it’s still notable. If the survival rate for women treated by men was the same as the rate for women treated by women, 1,500 to 3,000 fewer women would have died in this sample, study co-author Seth Carnahan told Gizmodo.
Even more fascinating: The study found that women had better outcomes if the hospital’s emergency department had a higher percentage of female doctors. Male doctors with more female colleagues also gave more effective treatment to female patients.
Existing evidence already suggests that women are less likely to survive heart attacks than men, and there are a few theories as to why. They be likely to delay treatment or could be tougher to diagnose, the authors wrote in the study. Women also tend to have heart attacks at older ages, as Gizmodo pointed out.
Matching or mismatching patient and doctor gender may be another factor that helps explain this survival gap, the authors added.
This particular study could only look back on data — it couldn’t determine the reason(s) why female patients fared worse with male doctors in this group of Florida patients. But co-author Brad Greenwood, an associate professor of information and decision sciences at the University of Minnesota, told INSIDER via email that there are still some key takeaways.
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Source: Business insider