Despite improvements in treatment for heart attacks, care lags behind for women.
Women are still less likely to receive timely care, according to a new study that reviewed 450,000 patient records for two types of heart attacks.
"Heart attack treatments have come a long way but timely access to appropriate care is still an issue, especially for female patients," said lead author Dr. Juan Carlos Montoy, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.
The research, published June 21 in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, included both ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) and non-ST-elevation myocardial infarction (NSTEMI) in California hospitals between 2005 and 2015.
For the study, the researchers defined timely treatment as day of hospital admission for STEMI patients and within three days of admission for NSTEMI patients.
In 2005, 50% of men and 35.7% of women with STEMI cases received timely angiograms. These scans are used to assess narrowing or blockages in veins or arteries or show blood flow through the heart.
For NSTEMI cases, timely angiography happened in 45% of men's cases and 33.1% of women's, the study found.
While timely care and survival rates were better in 2015, women's care still lagged.
About 76.7% of men with STEMI and 66.8% of women received timely angiograms, the study found. For those with NSTEMI, 56.3% of men and 45.9% of women received timely care.
Black, Hispanic and Asian patients were less likely than white patients to receive timely angiogram scans, and that changed little over time, the authors said.
"Some of the factors influencing this pronounced treatment gap are insurance status, hospital characteristics and geography," Montoy said in a journal news release. "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."
He said 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."
The American Heart Association has information on the warning signs of heart attack.
SOURCE: Annals of Emergency Medicine, news release, June 22, 2022