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Is Heart Health Care Created Equal for Both Men and Women?

By EmpowHER June 19, 2012 - 1:40pm
Heart & Blood related image

Heart disease is usually seen as a man’s disease. However, not only is heart disease the top killer in the United States, but it is also a disease that kills both women and men equally. Depending on the news your read or watch, heart disease death rates in women range from nearly half of all heart disease deaths (ABC News Report 1) to killing a larger amount of women than men (US News 1). Regardless of the more precise report, heart disease is no longer solely a “man’s disease.”

Because heart disease is rising among women, the question is whether women are getting the same health care as men for heart health. Women and men are not receiving equal care a May 2011 report by Health Grades said. Health Grades provides information about physicians and hospital quality outcomes.

Between 2007 and 2009, Health Grades researched patient records of more than five million Medicare patients. Specifically, they looked at records of women with 16 common procedures and diagnoses (Health Grades 1).

Health Grades discovered that for women, heart disease was as common as it is in men, but not all treatment methods were equal between men and women.

Health Grades reported:
Fifty percent of men got life-saving surgical interventions compared to 33 percent of women
A 30 percent higher death rate in women undergoing a heart surgery or angioplasty (Health Grades 2)

The report also showed that hospitals do not offer the same care quality, in treatment options or diagnoses, for female patients. According to Health Grades, such inequalities in care can be the difference between life and death. For example, the report discovered that at hospitals labeled as Women’s Health Excellence Award hospitals (hospitals that have exceptional programs for diagnosing and treating women), mortality rates of women were 42 percent lower than poorer performing hospitals (Health Grades 3).

The dissimilarities in heart health care between men and women may come from a variety of factors. Heart disease occurs at a younger age in men than women. Therefore, physicians are often more resistant to operate on an older woman than a younger man.

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