Male general practitioners are more likely to consider heart disease a "man's issue" and neglect to assess cardiovascular risk in female patients, a new study finds.
Death from cardiovascular disease has decreased sharply in the last years, but the numbers have dropped more sharply in men.
Also, studies find that men tend to get better cardiovascular care than do women, both generally and after a heart attack, and so a French research team decided to look at whether doctors are less zealous in identifying risk factors as well.
They undertook a study of 52 general practitioners (GP) that involved more than 2,200 patients. Both the doctors and the patients completed questionnaires about their personal characteristics. Medical files were used to obtain data on patients' gender, age, history of diabetes, and standard cardiovascular risk factors (personal and family history of cardiovascular disease, smoking status, blood pressure, fasting blood glucose, and cholesterol).
A key way of assessing cardiovascular risk is to input the information about a patient’s risk profile into a validated scale, the researchers noted.
They looked at whether there was sufficient information in a patient's medical files to assess their risk using standardized scoring methods and found that the information tended to be less complete when male doctors assessed the information on female patients.
"I think most GPs will be surprised by our findings, and I hope this will help them ensure they assess cardiovascular risk equally in their male and female patients,” says lead author Dr. Raphaëlle Delpech of the study, which appears in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.
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