Women get fewer heart tests: study

Women experiencing chest pain are less likely to get tested for symptoms of heart disease, according to a new study conducted by the famed Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Despite this disturbing finding, the study’s authors say that this doesn’t necessarily mean that men are getting better medical treatment.

The Mayo Clinic’s Dr. Veronique L.Roger says that while women are less likely to get cardiac testing in the emergency room, the study also showed that over a follow-up period of six years, women had fewer heart attacks and were less likely to die than men.

The study looked at 1,306 men and 965 women who went to hospital emergency wards with “unstable” angina, which can occur both during exertion and at rest. Unstable angina is viewed as an indication of worsening heart disease and greater risk for heart attack. Most of the study’s participants (85% of men and 72% of women) received some sort of heart test.

But when the study’s authors used other factors like age, the type of chest pain reported, and measures of the patient’s heart function, they discovered that men were almost 25% more likely to receive a cardiac test or procedure. The differenceas more profound for the coronary angiography test, which men were 40% more likely to receive.

Despite these differences, the study’s authors note that longer term mortality rates show that there is no evidence that women’s health is being jeopardized. They do warn, however, that anyone experiencing chest pain should seek immediate medical treatment.