Women receive less aggressive care, and are more likely to die, after heart attack-related cardiogenic shock

Cardiogenic shock (CS) is the No. 1 cause of death among acute myocardial infarction (AMI) patients who reach the hospital alive, with a mortality rate of nearly 50%. Women often receive different care than men after CS, according to a recent study published in Circulation: Heart Failure—and they’re more likely to die from it as well.  

The authors used data from the National Inpatient Sample to track more than 90,000 patients who had AMIs complicated by CS from 2000 to 2017. All patients were between the ages of 18 and 55 years old at the time of the incident.

Overall, the team found, women were less likely to undergo coronary angiography, percutaneous coronary intervention and mechanical circulatory support than men. Women were also 11% more likely to die from AMI-related CS.

“It is very concerning that the young, productive women of our society face these healthcare disparities,” lead author Saraschandra Vallabhajosyula, MD, MSc, of the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, said in a statement.

As one might expect, the authors noted, using fewer treatments led to lower hospitalization costs when treating women than men; the length of stay was not significantly different between the two sexes.

In the same statement, Vallabhajosyula noted that it will be crucial for researchers to gain a better understanding of the reasoning behind these disparities.

“As clinicians, we need to understand the likely multiple motivators and factors, both individual and system-based, that might lead to unconscious bias,” she said. “Our emphasis should be on providing high-quality and equitable care for every patient independent of their sex.”

The full analysis in Circulation: Heart Failure can be read here.