Women face a gender gap during their heart-related problems, a new report by BHF states. A British woman named Lorraine Kinzel suffered from a heart attack at the age of 44 years. However, the doctors assured that she was young and could return back to her normal life.
However, within 5 weeks after the incident, she suffered from angina symptoms and breathlessness. She was often taken to the hospital’s emergency ward through ambulances. Still, the doctors described her condition as a panic attack and assured her that she was fine.
The British Heart Foundation (BHF) has published a report. It stated that women are facing the issue of the “heart attack gender gap” during medical care. The statistics are particularly shocking. BHF estimates that almost 8,000 in England and Wales died unnecessarily from heart attacks during a 10 years period. And the reason behind it was that women received worse medical care as compared to men.
BHF stated that there is a misconception that heart diseases are more related to men. Women who suffer from heart attacks are more likely to die as a consequence than men. Coronary heart disease alone is responsible for twice the deaths caused due to breast cancer in the UK.
BHF also states that women have a lack of awareness about the symptoms of heart problems. Thus, they don’t seek medical care early in the disease. Moreover, they receive misdiagnosis about their condition that reduces their chances of survival.
Doctors misdiagnosed heart attack with a panic attack
At the age of 50, doctors misdiagnosed Lorraine’s condition as hiatus hernia. She waited in the emergency for 2 hours before any medical person could realize her suffering from a heart attack. Later, she woke up in a cardiac intensive unit. And had a stunt put on her heart. Still, the consultant reassured her that she was young and could live a normal life.
In the UK, only a few eligible women receive rehabilitation services. In the case of Lorraine, doctors discharged her with no aftercare. But just after 5 weeks, her angina symptoms appeared. She could not walk for even 50 yards. She went for an angiogram.
5 days before the angiogram, she had also undergone the test for troponin level (the biomarker for heart attack). The staff told her that the levels were fine. However, after the angiogram, it reveals that she had another arterial blockage. Therefore, the doctors fitted the second stunt.
Gender gap – a complex issue in health care
BHF states that the gender gap does not exist only in cardiovascular health but in the overall health care system. Professor Chris Gale, the senior author of the BHF study said that heart attacks are medical emergencies. Their interventions are time-based. If we miss earlier intervention care, we may miss the next pathway of medical care.
As a solution to the gender gap in health care, Dr. Gale suggests three interventions. Firstly, providing public awareness about heart attacks in women. Secondly, including women for the purpose of researches. Last but not least, a need to work with NHS, policymakers and health care professionals.
This can ensure that each patient receives high-quality medical care, regardless of the gender difference. Professor Huon Gray is the National Clinical Director for Heart Disease in NHS England.
He said that we appreciate the BHF report. And encourage their efforts for raising awareness regarding heart attacks. And added that they are working with BHF and other organizations. Whereas, the purpose is to identify both men and women with a high risk of a heart attack.