Harvard study issues shocking warning for female heart attack victims

7 Aug 2018

Image: Kzenon/Shutterstock

A truly incredible study claims a woman who has a heart attack should probably insist on being treated by a female doctor.

Could the gender of your physician really determine whether you have more of a chance to live?

This is the incredible claim being made by Harvard Business School researchers who said that their research shows a female heart attack victim is more likely to survive if treated by a female physician.

Publishing its findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team looked at more than 500,000 heart attack patients admitted to emergency departments in Florida between 1991 and 2010.

Based purely on the statistics, it showed that women treated by male doctors were less likely to survive than patients of either gender treated by female physicians, or male patients treated by male physicians.

Additionally, it found that even when a male physician successfully treated a female heart attack victim, it was because there was an increased percentage of female physicians based in that emergency department.

Why is this happening?

The researchers claim that, as most physicians are male, they appear to have more trouble treating women.

This is backed by one of the findings which showed that, as a male physician treats more women, his mortality rate after treatment decreases.

“Medical practitioners should be aware of the possible challenges male providers face when treating female [heart attack] patients,” the researchers wrote.

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

However, the team admits that further research needs to be done to understand the precise mechanism as to why gender concordance appears critical, particularly for female patients.

A potential variable to examine further, it said, could be a previous finding by other researchers that said female physicians tend to perform better than men across a wide variety of ailments.

“Such research might include experimental interventions or tests of more targeted training to examine how exposing male physicians more thoroughly to the presentation of female patients might impact outcomes,” the team said.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic