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Gender gap exists in cardiac care: study

Differences remain in the quality of cardiac care between men and women in Ontario, according to a new study by researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES).

Toronto, December 18, 2009

Gender gap exists in cardiac care: study

Women who had heart attacks were less likely to receive care from a cardiologist, be referred for angiography, or be prescribed the statin class of drugs to lower cholesterol. Women were also more likely to be readmitted to hospital in both 30-day and one-year timeframes than men.

Women experienced the same wait times for medical procedures such as angiographies, and were given similar rates of non-statin heart medications.

“The good news is the gender gap has narrowed over the past decade and we identified a number of areas where care received by women and men is comparable,” says Dr. Arlene Bierman, a physician at St. Michael’s Hospital and principal investigator of the study, entitled Project for an Ontario Women’s Health Evidence-Based Report (POWER). “Now we need to eliminate the gender disparities that remain to improve health outcomes and provide a better quality of life for women with heart disease.”

“If we do not address disparities in women’s heart health, we will see mortality rates from this disease increase in Canadian women sooner than we expect,” says Dr. Marco Di Buono, Director of Research, Heart & Stroke Foundation of Ontario.

The findings are detailed in the report titled Cardiovascular Disease — the third to be released this year as part of the POWER study. The study is the first in Ontario to provide a comprehensive overview of women’s health in relation to gender, income, education, ethnicity and geography. The POWER Study is a partnership between St. Michael’s Hospital and ICES, and is funded by Echo: Improving Women’s Health in Ontario, an agency of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.