'Women are still late for hospital when they have a heart attack,' warns doctor
Vall d'Hebron professional says pharma "are less interested" in women being in clinical trials
Women have double the risk of dying from a heart attack compared to men. They take more time to go to a hospital because they can bear more pain, symptoms usually get mixed up with anxiety, and they often prioritize taking care of their family over their own health.
These were the main findings of a report published in 2019 by Antonia Sambola, a doctor in Barcelona's Vall d'Hebron hospital – and three years later, little has changed, despite the social impact of the paper.
"Women are still late for hospital when they have a heart attack," she warns in an interview with the Catalan News Agency.
"Although we have known this trend for a long time and the causes are also clear, the situation continues to be the same. A change is needed, in order to better inform the public, and also a different behavior on the issue from professionals is needed," she said.
According to Sambola, when women report a heart attack over the phone, "they have been told to wait, to take a paracetamol and diazepam, and to get in touch with their GP. ECGs during the moment of pain are especially effective.
18% of women who suffer heart attack die in Spain, fewer in Catalonia
On the International Day of Action for Women's Health, celebrated this Saturday, Sambola reminds that cardiovascular diseases are the top cause of death for women, although "it has always been associated with men."
Between 6,000 and 9,000 more women than men die every year in Spain as a result of such a condition, according to the women's working group at Spain's Cardiology Society.
Indeed, 18% of women who suffer a heart attack end up dying in Spain – 9% for men –, according to the 2019 report. For Catalonia, the figures are lower because a Codi Infart is in place, that is, a Catalan health system protocol for quick action once emergency services are in contact with the person suffering a heart attack.
Role of pharma
For her, pharma should also step up their efforts in tackling cardiovascular conditions for women, since only 3 out of 10 participants in clinical trials in this field are female.
They argue that "the hormonal influence can interfere in the results," she explains. "A lot of medicines used for cardiovascular diseases are anticoagulant, and if you test them with a menstruating woman, they will have more hemorrhages, and that is not interesting for them."