Signs of heart disease are more likely to be blamed on stress when the patient is a woman, new research shows. When a case study involving heart symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, irregular heart beat, there was no difference in a doctors diagnosis for a man or a woman. When stress was included as a symptom, gender differences emerged. The presence of stress changed the way doctors interpreted a women’s symptoms, leading them to suggest psychological factors rather than a physical cause. The presence of stress did not change the way doctors assessed men.
When stress is listed as a symptom, 15 percent of doctors diagnosed heart disease in women, compared to 56 percent for men. Only 30 percent of doctors referred women to a cardiologist, compared to 62 percent for men. Medication was suggested 13 percent for women and 47 percent for men.
These findings where presented at the Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics scientific symposium. These finding can explain why there is a delay in assessing heart disease in women. With the body of knowledge available, why is this happening?