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Women wait longer for emergency heart treatment

the clogged area they inflate the balloon, opening the blood vessel's clogged passageway. They may also leave behind a tiny scaffold called a stent, to keep the vessel open.

Even after receiving this treatment, one in every 13 women in the study died, compared with one in every 32 men. Those men and women whose door-to-balloon time had been less than 90 minutes were far less likely to die.

The women, on the whole, were older and had more co-existing health problems. This is typical of women heart attack patients nationwide. So, the researchers added those factors, and the increased wait time for angioplasty, to their analysis. Even still, there was a trend -- though not a statistically significant one -- toward increased in-hospital mortality rates for women.

The researchers also confirmed what other studies have found: It takes longer for women to get to the emergency room after they start experiencing symptoms. In the study, the women reported that their symptoms had started on average 105 minutes before they got to the ER, while the average time for men was 85 minutes.

The reasons for this difference aren't clear, but could be due in part to the fact that women tend to have less of the "typical" symptoms of heart attack, such as crushing chest pain and left arm pain. They may also be more likely to attribute those symptoms to something other than a heart attack, in part because they don't realize their own risk for a heart attack.

"Contrary to what our society seems to think, heart attacks can happen to women just as to men," says Moscucci. "We all need to work harder to make sure that women get the same immediate attention and care as men, and that they get it just as quickly."


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Contact: Kara Gavin
kegavin@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
9-Nov-2004


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