Heart disease has traditionally been seen as a disease for men. However, not only is heart disease the main killer in the United States, but it is also a disease that kills an equal amount of men and women. Depending on the news you tune in to, heart disease death rates in women vary from nearly half of the total amount of heart disease deaths of killing more women than men Nevertheless, heart disease is no longer just a “man’s disease.”
Because heart disease cases are increasing among women, the question is whether women are receiving the same health care as men for heart disease. Women and men are not getting equal care a May 2011 report by Health Grades said. Health Grades offers information about physicians and hospital quality outcomes.
Between 2007 and 2009, Health Grades studied patient records of more than five million Medicare patients. They researched records of women with 16 typical procedures and diagnoses.
Health Grades learned that heart disease was as common for women as men, but not all treatments were equal between genders.
Health Grades reported:
- Fifty percent of men received life-saving surgeries compared to 33 percent of women
- A 30 percent higher death rate in women undergoing a heart surgery or angioplasty
The report also said that hospitals do not provide the same care quality, in treatment availabilities or diagnoses, for women. According to Health Grades, such inequalities can be the difference between life and death. For example, the report learned that at hospitals categorized as Women’s Health Excellence Award hospitals (hospitals that have leading programs for diagnosing and treating women), mortality rates of women were 42 percent lower than hospitals that did not perform as well.
The inequalities in heart health care between men and women happen for various reasons. Heart disease occurs at a younger age in men than women. Therefore, physicians are often more cautious to perform surgery on an older woman than a younger man. Because heart disease symptoms differ among men and women, it can be more challenging to diagnose heart disease among women. Even after a diagnosis, some women do not get the same prevention or follow-up care as men.
It’s critical for women to know that not all medical workers may be fully educated on the differences in prevention, diagnosis, treatment and follow-up care between men and women. Be assertive and participate in your health care by educating yourself, asking questions and working with your doctor to make decisions regarding your heart health.