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Female Heart Survival Lags "Significantly"

A woman’s chances of surviving a heart attack are about a third of those faced by a man, according to a major new study. Experts said the problem was that many people regarded heart disease as largely a male problem. The latest findings were reported to the first conference of the Acute Cardiovascular Care Association in Istanbul, Turkey. The findings come from a study of some 5,000 heart attack patients in Brittany, France. Just 1,174 of the patients were women and their average age was eight years more than the men at 69.

Researchers said there were “significant” differences in the way patients were treated based on their gender. This included it taking 15 minutes longer to call for help for a woman patient. Researcher Dr Guillaume Leurent, of the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire in Rennes, France, said: “These results suggest that women need to be more vigilant about chest pains and request medical help quickly to reduce ischemic time. Women may take longer to call an ambulance when they have chest pains because they don’t believe it can be a myocardial infarction. Most women believe myocardial infarction is a male problem.”

He added: “Many doctors still think myocardial infarction is a male problem. Campaigns are needed to increase awareness in doctors and the public about the problem of STEMI in women. Doctors need to be more careful in the management of ST elevation myocardial infarction in women to further reduce ischemic time. This means adopting more aggressive reperfusion strategies and treating women the same as men. These actions by patients and doctors will reduce the current gender gap in mortality.”

The British Heart Foundation said the findings echoed its own research. Maureen Talbot, a specialist nurse with the Foundation, said: “Many women view heart disease as a male problem, but the truth is heart disease is the single biggest killer of women in the UK and it kills three times more women than breast cancer. Though we need to see more detail about this research, the findings emphasise the importance of seeking early medical attention for symptoms. If you think you or someone you know is having a heart attack, don’t take any chances – phone 999 immediately.”

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