Study: Women Less Likely to Receive Timely Treatment for Heart Attacks

Investigators also noted that Black, Hispanic, and Asian individuals were less likely than white individuals to undergo timely angiography and had minimal changes overtime.

Women are less likely to receive timely treatments for heart attacks, according to a new study published in Annals of Emergency Medicine.1

“Heart attack treatments have come a long way but timely access to appropriate care is still an issue, especially for female patients,” Juan Carlos Montoy, MD, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of California San Francisco, said in a statement.1

The study analyzed more than 450,000 records of individuals with 1 of 2 types of heart attack—an ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) or a non-ST-elevation myocardial infarction (NSTEMI)—from 2005 to 2015 in California hospitals.1

Investigators reported that in 2005, timely angiography had occurred for 50% of male individuals and 35.7% of female individuals who had STEMI and 45% of males and 33.1% of females with NSTEMI. In 2015, the investigators reported that the rates improved to 76.6% for males and 66.8% for females and 56.3% for males and 45.9% of females, respectively.1

The investigators defined timely access to angiography as treatment on the day of hospital admission for individuals with STEMI and within 3 days for those who had NSTEMI. Angiography is a diagnostic process that involves an x-ray of dye injected into blood vessels to assess narrowing or blockage in veins or arteries.1

The proportion of individuals who received timely treatment increased and mortality decreased for both men and women over time; however, despite seeing the gap narrow, these disparities persisted over the course of the years analyzed.1

Additionally, investigators noted that the number of female individuals who received timely treatment for NSTEMI in 2015 was lower than males in 2006. Females who were treated for STEMI in 2015 received timely treatment at lower rates than males in 2010.1

Investigators also noted that Black, Hispanic, and Asian individuals were less likely as white individuals to undergo timely angiography and had minimal changes overtime.1

“Some of the factors influencing this pronounced treatment gap are insurance status, hospital characteristics and geography,” Montoy said in a statement. “But there are biases and social issues that challenge access to care and impact the treatment of women and patients of color with heart issues. These gaps should concern clinicians and patients because they can result in delayed care and lower the likelihood that some patients receive potentially lifesaving treatment.”1

According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and individuals of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States. Every year, approximately 805,000 individuals in the United States experience a heart attack, according to the CDC.2

Of these individuals, 605,000 have a heart attack for the first time, while 200,000 have previously had a heart attack.2

References

1. Treatment for heart attacks improving but gaps in access persist, new study shows. EurekAlert. News release. June 22, 2022. Accessed June 28, 2022. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/956836

2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Heart Disease: Heart Disease Statistics and Maps. Updated February 7, 2022. Accessed June 28, 2022. https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm