Study finds female doctors better for heart patients

Women more likely to survive heart attack if treated by female doctor – study

Women more likely to survive heart attack if treated by female doctor – study

But a new study has revealed that, when it comes to certain conditions, whether your doctor is male or female could actually impact on your chances of survival.

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.

If you're having a heart attack and you're a woman, hope a female doctor greets you in the emergency room. In the United States, women are less likely than men to survive the years after a heart attack, even after accounting for age.

Although it is evident that male physicians are better at taking care of men with heart attacks than women, "it's harder to tell if female physicians have no such gender disparity because their numbers are so small", Dr. Jha said.

A review of almost 582,000 heart attack cases over 19 years showed female patients had a significantly higher survival rate when a woman treated them in the emergency room.

The team also found women were more likely to survive if the emergency department had a higher proportion of female doctors who had treated heart attacks - a trend particularly strong if the woman was being treated by a male doctor.

Study authors Brad Greenwood, Seth Carnahan, and Laura Huang spent two decades analyzing the different treatment men and women receive from male and female physicians at a Florida hospital. Livestrong states that heart attacks in women can sometimes be hard to diagnose because many women don't believe they are having a heart attack and don't experience the same symptoms as men.

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"You have highly trained experts with life or death on the line, and yet the gender match between the physician and the patient seems to matter a great deal", said Carnahan, one of a handful of new faculty at the Olin 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.

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.

For both men and women, the same advice on preventing heart attacks applies - and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 80 percent of heart disease, especially heart attacks, can be avoided by modifying lifestyle behavior. The research also found that the more experience men had treating women, the better their statistics.

Although women patients matched with women physicians have been studied before, this study is the first time heart attack outcomes were assessed for gender concordance.

The study, "Patient-physician gender concordance and increased mortality among female heart attack patients", was published on August 6, 2018 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

These findings represent a "fundamental catch-22 for medical providers and female patients", wrote the authors.

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