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Heart Attack Care Continues To Be Biased In Favor Of Men

Despite major advances, differences in the treatment given to male and female patients suffering from heart-related problems persist, a new study has found//.

In all, the study shows, women were less likely than men to benefit from hospitals' quality-improvement measures -- and were less likely to get all of the drugs, tests, and counseling about smoking, diet and exercise that have been proven to help heart attack survivors live longer and healthier lives.

The difference may help explain why women in the study were much more likely than men to die within a year of being hospitalized for a heart attack.

The result, published in a recent issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, comes from an analysis of records from nearly 4,000 heart attack survivors treated at 33 Michigan hospitals before or after a major quality improvement effort took place. All were insured under Medicare.

The researchers, led by a team from the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center and funded by the American College of Cardiology, found a significant difference between the treatment women received before and after the effort, and that received by men. But the increased use of most medications and other measures was much more pronounced in men.

Overall, both men and women treated in the four months after the quality effort began had a better chance of being alive a year after their hospital stay ended, compared with those treated before the quality-improvement effort. But the drop in death risk was smaller in women.

That difference, say the researchers, is linked to the fact that women patients were less likely than men to have a one-on-one session with doctors or nurses before they went home from the hospital, to help them understand and "take charge" of the medicines and lifestyle changes that could improve their health. Both men and women who had this session, and signed a discharge contract with their doctors and nu
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