Trending Health – About one million women worldwide each year suffer from a serious heart attack, known as an ST elevation myocardial infarction, or STEMI.
Previous research has shown that women, in comparison to men, often have worse survival rates and a lower quality of life following such an event.
But a new Cleveland Clinic study is aiming to close the gender gap when it comes to caring for patients who have suffered a STEMI heart attack.
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“It has been assumed that because women are higher risk that these issues with how care is delivered to them and their worse outcomes is somewhat inevitable and it just happens because of the fact that they’re higher risk, but what we have found out and shown is that we can change this,” said Cleveland Clinic’s Umesh Khot, M.D., author of the study.
Dr. Khot said a STEMI heart attack is not only very common, it is very serious. It is the type of heart attack in which the artery suddenly closes off, leading to severe and immediate pain in the chest.
Previous research has shown that women tend to be older and at higher risk of death when they suffer this type of heart attack. Women also tend to have less ideal care following this type of event and therefore have a higher risk of complications.
For the study, Dr. Khot and his team established a standardized care plan for patients who have suffered a STEMI heart attack.
“We had standard criteria to activate the catheterization lab; we had a checklist to tell us exactly what steps needed to be done on every patient; we made sure the patient was immediately transferred to the catheterization lab without any delays; and then we made a slight change in terms of how we did the procedure by using more radial artery versus femoral as a way of getting into the heart, that’s been shown to be better,” he said.
Dr. Khot said the standard care plan resulted in dramatic improvement in how quickly patients were treated across the board.
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For women, in particular, the results were greatly improved, as mortality rates were reduced by half in comparison with men who received the same care.
“By standardizing the care that’s delivered for all patients, women, in particular, get a very strong benefit that leads ultimately to them living longer and surviving this condition.” said Dr. Khot.
Dr. Khot said even though heart attack awareness among women is higher than it used to be, it’s important for women to know just how dangerous a heart attack can be.
He said it’s important for anyone, no matter what kind of heart attack they’ve suffered, to have continued care with a cardiologist.
Complete results of the study can be found in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.