Women may not be keeping pace with men when it comes to getting treated for heart attack symptoms, and this delay could be life-threatening, French researchers reported in October at the Acute Cardiac Care Congress in Turkey.
The study’s authors looked at cases of a type of heart attack called STEMI (ST-elevation myocardial infarction) in 5,000 people over a six-year period. Nearly 1,200 of them were women.
On average, women waited longer after their symptoms began to call for medical help (60 minutes vs. 44 minutes in men).
They also faced a delay between hospital admission and reperfusion treatment to restore blood flow to their heart (45 minutes vs. 40 minutes in men). And treatments in women were generally less aggressive than they were in men. The researchers say these treatment discrepancies—which lengthen the period of diminished blood supply to the heart muscle (ischemia)—could contribute to the much higher heart attack death rate they found in women (9% vs. 4% in men). Although this study hasn’t yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal, it follows other research with similar findings. “Women may take longer to call an ambulance when they have chest pains because they don’t believe it can be a myocardial infarction [heart attack],” lead author Dr. Guillaume Leurent, from the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire in Rennes, France, said in a release. “These results suggest that women need to be more vigilant about chest pains and request medical help quickly to reduce ischemic time.”