Emory University Scholar Finds That Women Who Suffer Cardiogenic Shock Get Less Aggressive Treatment Than Men

According to new research led by researchers at Emory University in Atlanta, women ages 18-55 who suffer cardiac arrest get less aggressive care in the hospital and are more likely to die prior to discharge than men of the same age.

Cardiogenic shock, when the heart suddenly fails to pump enough blood to keep vital organs alive, is a leading cause of death after a heart attack, causing death in about half of those with the complication who survived long enough to be admitted to the hospital. Using data from the National Inpatient Sample from 2000-2017 maintained by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the researchers analyzed hospital health data on 90,648 patient admissions (between 18 and 55 years old) who had heart attacks complicated by cardiogenic shock. Slightly more than a quarter of these patients were women.

The investigators found that women were significantly less likely than men to:

  • Receive coronary angiography, a procedure that uses a special dye and X-rays to detect blockages in heart arteries;
  • To be treated with procedures such as stents or balloons to open blockages in the arteries of the heart; and
  • To have their heart function temporarily supplemented using a mechanical pump.

“As clinicians, we need to understand the likely multiple motivators and factors, both individual and system-based, that might lead to unconscious bias. Our emphasis should be on providing high-quality and equitable care for every patient independent of their sex,” said Saraschandra Vallabhajosyula, lead author of the study and a clinical fellow in interventional cardiology at the Emory University School of Medicine. “It is very concerning that the young, productive women of our society face these health care disparities.”

The full study, “Sex Disparities in the Management and Outcomes of Cardiogenic Shock Complicating Acute Myocardial Infarction in the Young,” was published on the website of the Circulation: Heart Failure, a journal of the American Heart Association. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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