Women More Likely to Survive a Heart Attack if Doctor is Female

Female doctors outperformed their male counterparts in regards to heart attack survival rates, as a whole, and particularly, for women heart attack survivors.

A new study published by the National Academy of Sciences has examined patient gender disparities in survival rates following acute myocardial infarctions, or heart attacks, based on the gender of the treating physician, and has found that not only are women less likely than men to survive traumatic health episodes, such as heart attacks, overall, but that mortality rates of women following a heart attack are lower, if they are treated by a female physician. The findings also indicate that the mortality rate of females who experienced a heart attack decrease, if they are treated by a male physician with more female colleagues, or if that male physician has treated a higher percentage of female patients in the past.

Brad Greenwood, Seth Carnahan, and Laura Huang examined two decades worth of records from Florida emergency rooms, including every patient who was admitted for a heart attack from 1991 through 2010. The records revealed women are more likely to die in the years following a heart attack, even when age was accounted for, when treated by male physicians, compared with either men treated by male physicians or women treated by female physicians. Overall, the research suggests that female physicians outperformed their male colleagues in regards to survival rates, and their patients were more likely to live.

“These results suggest a reason why gender inequality in heart attack mortality persists: Most physicians are male, and male physicians appear to have trouble treating female patients,” the researchers wrote.

According to the study, the survival rate for men with female physicians was 88.1%, compared to 86.6% for women with male physicians—even after the team accounted for elements such as the doctors’ experience, and the patients’ age, ethnicity, and other factors.

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