Male physicians in France pay more attention to heart disease in male patients and may underestimate cardiovascular risk among women, according to the French Institute of Health and Medical Research. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States.
Researchers noted cardiovascular disease mortality has decreased more in men than in women. They also suggest that male patients receive better secondary prevention and cardiovascular care after they are affected by a heart problem.
Since the 1980s most developed countries have assessed heart disease as a major public health issue. Since that time, deaths rates have dropped up to 50 percent in some regions, as a result of increased preventive care, said lead author Dr. Raphaelle Delpech.
The team hypothesizes that primary prevention may be more prevalent among men. Detailed Results of the investigation were published on Wednesday in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.
“Guidelines recommend screening for cardiovascular risk factors in men and women. Physicians are more attentive to these factors in their male patients. This could be because CVD is more frequent among men, who have historically been more likely to adopt risky habits like smoking,” added Delpech.
Is heart disease considered as a “men’s issue”?
Researchers examined how cardiovascular risk assessment differs depending on patient gender. They analyzed data obtained from 52 male French physicians and 2200 patients. The team considered age, gender, history of diabetes and standard cardiovascular risk factors.
There is a French scale, in which doctors insert patient’s data to calculate their heart disease risk for the next ten years. The calculator results can variate from low or high, depending on evaluated factors.
Investigators found that information about smoking, blood glucose, and cholesterol was found less frequently in files of female patients. As a consequence, cardiovascular risk assessment is less frequently among female, when using the calculator.
Dr. Raphaelle Delpech: Most physicians will be surprised by new findings
According to Dr. Delpech, who is a general practitioner at Paris XI University, guidelines to calculate heart disease risk among patients are equal for men and women. However, physicians seem to focus more on male patients.
In some European countries, cardiovascular diseases are among frequent among men than in women. For instance, men have historically shown more interest towards smoking, said Dr. Delpech.
“I think most GPs will be surprised by our findings, and I hope this will help them ensure they assess cardiovascular risk equally in their male and female patients. A government media campaign aimed at physicians could help raise awareness and stimulate change,” she added.
The team concluded that “gender differences in risk assessment were less substantial” when patients were evaluated by female doctors, instead of male physicians. The woman had 28 percent fewer opportunities to have their cardiovascular risk calculated when they attended a female practitioner.
On the other hand, they had 44 percent fewer chances to have their cardiovascular risk estimated when they visited a male doctor’s office. Both calculations were obtained considering the SCORE scale.
“The patients who were least well assessed for cardiovascular risk were women seen by male physicians,” said Dr. Delpech in a press release issued Monday by the European Society of Cardiology.
Dr. Delpech suggests that female medical practitioners “follow guidelines more routinely”, and are less likely to change their evaluations based on their patient’s gender. She invited the government to create a media campaign, to raise awareness among male physicians.
Another proposal said that medical practitioners should get paid based on their abilities to calculate cardiovascular risk among patients, regardless of gender. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the world, as reported by the World Health Organization.
Cardiovascular disease: Leading cause of death for men and woman in the United States
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that 610,000 Americans die each year as a consequence of heart disease. One out of four deaths in the nation is related to heart problems.
Most common types of heart disease in the country are coronary heart disease and heart attack. High blood pressure, bad cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, obesity, poor diet and physical inactivity can contribute to the development of heart problems.
The CDC added that heart disease is sometimes seen as a “man’s disease” in the United States. However, it is also the leading cause of death for women in the country.
The American Heart Association has an online calculator to estimate the risk of heart disease and stroke among people, using a sophisticated algorithm. It considers blood pressure levels, age, gender, weight, physical activity, and others.
Only 54 percent of American women recognize that heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States, said the CDC.
— Mayo Clinic (@MayoClinic) June 17, 2016
Source: European Society of Cardiology