Women with atrial fibrillation are more likely than men to be hospitalized for stroke, according to a new study. This is likely due to women receiving subpar care for stroke prevention, argues researcher Ghanshyam Shantha, MBBS, a fellow in cardiovascular disease at the University of Iowa, who presented the work at a recent meeting hosted by the European Heart Rhythm Association. Atrial fibrillation is a relatively common heart-rhythm disorder, which increases the risk of stroke.
The researchers analyzed data from 1.1 million patients who had been hospitalized for atrial fibrillation over 15 years, according to a European Society of Cardiology press release. The data came from hospital records and reflects differences in stroke rates between men and women. They found that women were 23 percent more likely to be hospitalized for stroke than men.
However you slice, dice, and divide the data, women do poorer than men in terms of admissions for acute ischaemic stroke. This was true overall, across different time periods, and in all subcategories. There is no particular region where women with atrial fibrillation get worse care. In those with high socioeconomic status, women do worse than men, and among those with low socioeconomic status, women do worse than men. Women have second-rate outcomes across the board.
The results aren't due to biological differences between men and women, Shantha said, and the finding points to the need for improved care for women with atrial fibrillation:
Our results may have implications for resource allocation and policy decisions in terms of how we can prioritise women’s health among patients with atrial fibrillation. We also need more research on why many women do not get evidence-based care.
Previously: Stanford conference highlights gender differences in heart health, Using "big data" to improve patient care: Researchers explore a-fib treatments and BE FAST: Learn to recognize the signs of stroke
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