According to a study by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, women with heart disease end up in hospital less often and have a lower risk of premature death if their cardiologist is also a woman.
The researchers noted that male cardiologists often underestimated the risk of heart attack in female patients. Women were also less likely to receive drug treatment for high cholesterol and hypertension when treated by a man, leading to more dire consequences. One of the reasons gender may affect the course of heart disease is that female physicians on average spend more time with their patients and are better able to notice the subtle cues – dizziness, bouts of shortness of breath – in their patients. They may also be more likely to recognize symptoms that are more common in women than in men, such as indigestion and back pain.
The researchers therefore recommend encouraging women to specialize in cardiology. In the United States, for example, they make up only 13% of practicing cardiologists. The researchers also advise better training cardiologists in gender specificities to better differentiate the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of heart disease in men and women.
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