According to a new study, women wait longer than men to get treatment for their heart attacks. But it's not necessarily due to outright discrimination or even unconscious bias on the part of doctors and hospital staff. It's more likely due to our stereotypical idea of what a heart attack looks like.
The Globe and Mail reports that researchers looked at what happened when 1,100 patients (mostly Canadian) were booked into the hospital for heart troubles. They found that:
Only 29 per cent of women received an electrocardiogram in less than 10 minutes, whereas nearly 40 per cent of men did. Similarly, only 32 per cent of women received clot-busting drugs in less than 30 minutes, while about 60 per cent of men did.
But that's not necessarily, say, that women are taken less seriously than doctors. Researchers say that it's probably got more to do with the fact men and women tend to show different symptoms.
When you think of a heart attack, you probably think of the stereotypical emergency symptoms like pain radiating down your left arm and the proverbial elephant sitting on your chest, because that's what most awareness focuses on. But those symptoms are more universal with male patients—despite heart disease being the number-one killer of both sexes. Women often experience symptoms like dizziness, extreme shortness of breath, upper back pressure or what feels like acid reflux. So it takes longer for everyone involved to realize what's happening.
The study's authors conclude that patients and healthcare pros alike need to be more aware that heart attacks don't always conform to our expectations. (Imagine that!)
Now that you've sat through that little lecture, have some good news! Kinda. After years of warnings about the dire dangers of saturated fats, new research casts some doubt on their link with heart disease.
That's according to the New York Times, which reports that a recent study found neither increased heart disease among participants who indulged, nor decreased risk in those who consumed more unsaturated fat. However, this does not mean you should plan on eating double breakfast burgers slathered in cheese and bacon for brunch this weekend. According to a Harvard School of Public Health prof:
Looking at individual fats and other nutrient groups in isolation could be misleading, because when people cut down on fats they tend to eat more bread, cold cereal and other refined carbohydrates that can also be bad for cardiovascular health.
"The single macronutrient approach is outdated," said Dr. Hu, who was not involved in the study. "I think future dietary guidelines will put more and more emphasis on real food rather than giving an absolute upper limit or cutoff point for certain macronutrients."
Soon even your cardiologist won't shut up about Michael Pollan.
Photo via AP Images.