Gender Gap Closing in Heart Attack Treatment

More women are getting recommended therapies, study finds

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FRIDAY, Feb. 18 , 2005 (HealthDay News) -- A new study suggests the gender gap in heart attack treatment that favored men may be closing as more women receive the same recommended care.

Researchers found that women who've had a heart attack or suffered chest pain are being given appropriate drug intervention upon discharge from a hospital, at rates similar to men.

American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology practice guidelines recommend that people with acute coronary syndrome (ACS) -- which includes angina and heart attack -- be treated with aspirin, beta-blockers medications and lipid-lowering drugs called statins. Previous research found that women with heart disease weren't receiving as much of this recommended therapy as men after a heart attack or unstable angina.

"But significant progress has been made with more physicians/nurse practitioners following practice guidelines," Shu-Fen Wung, associate professor of nursing at the University of Arizona, said in a prepared statement. "In addition, there is not a statistically significant gap in the treatment between men and women," she said.

The research was presented Friday at the Second International Conference on Women, Heart Disease and Stroke in Orlando, Fla.

The study included 177 men and 35 women with ACS. It found that 90 percent of the men and women received aspirin and beta blockers when they were discharged from a hospital. Two-thirds of women received lipid-lowering statins, compared with 78 percent of men.

The women lived an average of 179 days following their ACS hospitalization while the men lived an average of 156 days.

"More people are following the guidelines. Women are receiving more of the recommended medications and there are less gender disparities in the usage of these medications either as a primary or secondary prevention," Wung said.

More information

The Cleveland Clinic has more about heart attack treatment.

SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, Feb. 18, 2005

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