Women's Heart Care Varies Widely By Hospital

New survey finds a 40% difference between best, poorest performers

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MONDAY, June 26, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Women now have almost a 10 percent greater chance of surviving heart disease and stroke than they did just a few years ago, but their chances of survival may also heavily depend on where they're treated, according to a new report released Monday.

Patients who received cardiovascular disease treatment at hospitals rated by HealthGrades as "best-performing" had a 40 percent lower risk of death than hospitals rated as "poorer-performing."

The discrepancy was even higher if the patient underwent coronary bypass surgery: Patients had a 50 percent lowered risk of dying at better-performing hospitals vs. poorer-performing centers.

HealthGrades, an independent health care ratings company, studied about 2.1 million hospitalizations of women treated at more than 2,100 U.S. hospitals for three years. They studied the survival rates after coronary bypass surgery, valve replacement surgery, percutaneous coronary interventions (such as stenting), heart attack, heart failure and stroke.

Survival rates of patients with heart failure showed the most dramatic increase at well over 15 percent. The study also determined that 30,548 more American women with cardiovascular disease could have survived if every hospital studied had performed at the "best-performing" rating. The full ratings report can be reviewed at www.HealthGrades.com.

"In this year's study, we were pleased to see such dramatic improvement in the treatment of cardiovascular disease in women, who have historically been under-diagnosed and under-treated," study author Dr. Samantha Collier, vice president of medical affairs at HealthGrades, said in a prepared statement. "But women need to know that the gap in quality between the best- and poorest-performing hospitals is real and has not closed in the three years we have been conducting this study."

More information

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has more information about cardiovascular disease in women.

SOURCE: HealthGrades, news release, June 26, 2006

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