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women go to emergency rooms more

Contrary to what it might seem, women go more to the emergency room for cardiovascular symptoms, but they end up being admitted to the hospital in a lower percentage than men, probably due to the existence of gender bias in hospital care. This is clear from a study presented at the annual congress of the Spanish Society of Cardiology (SEC).

The study, which has analyzed the impact of gender on the reason for consultation and care for patients in cardiology, specifically points out that there were 54.9% of women who went to the emergency room for cardiovascular symptoms before 47.7% of men.

However, only 6.6% of women end up in hospital compared to 8.8%.

Of the total of 6,042 consultations analyzed, 59% correspond to women, who are older: 64 years on average compared to 59 years in the case of men.

This is a descriptive study that has used health administrative data and the electronic clinical history of patients in the care area of ​​a tertiary hospital (University Hospital 12 d´Octubre) during the years 2017 and 2018.

In this, and as explained by Dr. Lourdes Vicent, lead author of the research, the consultations of patients referred from Primary Care have been included in a first consultation and analyzed the most common reasons for consultation, the basic socio-demographic variables and the profile of use of health resources by sex and age.

“The greater frequency of emergency consultations in women can be explained by a greater awareness of the disease or a greater concern for cardiovascular symptoms in them. On the contrary, the lower frequency of hospital admissions in women may be due to a lower concern for serious suffering on the part of the doctors who attend to these patients, based on the symptoms for which the women consult”

The most common reasons for consultation in women are palpitations (19%), especially in young women under 40, and the dyspnea (18%), in this case more common in elderly women.

On the contrary, men consult more for alterations in the electrocardiogram (23%) i chest pain (19%).

Regarding the requests for additional tests requested in the cardiology consultation, men presenting with chest pain more commonly undergo coronary angiography than women.

Transthoracic echocardiogram in the imaging unit is more requested in men, possibly because of greater concern for underlying heart disease in men.

Men in the over 65 age group follow up in a cardiology consultation more often than women (42% of men versus 37% of women).

cardiovascular women

Graphic study SEC

With all this data, Lourdes Vicent emphasizes that “it is necessary to better study the factors that explain these differences and identify areas for improvement”.

These results suggest the existence of biases in the care of women who consult for cardiovascular symptoms, possibly minimizing the importance of these or attributing them to extra-cardiological causes, such as anxiety.

All this contributes to an underdiagnosis of cardiovascular disease in women.

Greater mortality in women

According to the Spanish Heart Foundation, cardiovascular disease is already the leading cause of death in adult women in Spain, above other pathologies that are also very present such as breast cancer.

It is estimated that three out of ten deaths that occur in the female population in our country are directly related to some cardiovascular problemstroke, coronary disease and heart failure being the most prevalent

Contrary to what happens with men, in women it has not been possible to reduce the prevalence of cardiovascular diseases, especially due to the increase in smoking and sedentary lifestyles, as well as the lack of awareness that exists on the part of the woman about these pathologies.

Among the main risk factors for suffering a cardiovascular episode are tobacco, bad cholesterol, diabetes and hypertension.

In addition, other factors favor and enhance cardiovascular risk, such as obesity, the existence of abdominal fat, a sedentary lifestyle, an unbalanced and high-salt diet and stress.

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