Study Suggests Female Doctors Are Best For Female Heart Attack Patients

Science | By Julio Childress | August 10, 2018

When we think about heart attacks, we often think about it as a health issue that mainly affects men, specifically older men in their forties or above. Even when we consider younger demographics, it is still men who are in our minds, such as young, male athletes who suffer from heart attacks.

The truth is that heart attacks affect both men and women of all ages, although they tend to affect older men more often. When the demographic affected by a certain disease are over represented by one group, it can make it difficult to effectively treat across all demographics, because the natural inclination would be to focus on treatment for the main demographic affected.

This is why it's important to note what key differences could ensure a higher survival rate for certain conditions. In this case, we're talking about heart attacks. A recent analysis is suggesting that female doctors could be the best hope for female heart attack patients. Read on to find out more.

The Basis of the Study

Researchers were interested in seeing the difference between survival rates for men and women who suffer from heart attacks. Survival rates weren't the only piece of data looked at. The main point of data they explored was whether or not survival rates increased for women when they were treated by a female doctor. As for why this would be the case is more difficult to determine, though we will discuss that later in the article.

The research was done using data between the years of 1991 and 2010, a 19 year spread. The data was taken anonymously from Florida hospitals. Although this sample size is very geographically specific, the research could be duplicated in other areas if value is found in the results, so long as the hospitals are willing and able to share their data.

The Results of the Study

As stated, the study used date over nineteen years from 1991 to 2010. This data was comprised of the results 580,000 different heart attack victims. The results they found are very interesting in terms of their impact on women's health specifically. When looking at the mortality rates for women following a heart attack, the mortality rate was 1.3% higher when a female patient was treated by a male doctor: 13.3% as a whole. Comparatively, women who were treated by a female doctor has a 12% mortality rate.

The mortality rates for women lower even more in the case where a male doctor had a team of female colleagues working with them. Two apparent suggestions from this research are that one, women are more adept at treating women, or two, that women are more comfortable when operated on by a woman, though these are not definitive theories, nor the only ones one could postulate.

What to Make of the Results?

Dr. Seth Carnahan, the lead scientist at Washington University had this to say regarding the results: "the novel part of what we're doing is showing that the benefit of having a female doctor is particularly stark for a female patient." One reason this could be happening is due to doctors being trained with men in mind when it comes to heart attacks. This would leave a blind spot when treating women.

Maureen Talbot of the British Heart Foundation had this to say: "While this study supports this theory, more research is needed in UK hospitals to see if the bias exists here. It's important that we better understand what is causing this variation in care. And the BHF is already funding research into how we can improve the outcomes of women who have a heart attack."

Did You Know...


Chefs made their way into celebrity land a while ago. But how many celebrities that weren’t trained as professional cooks are actually whizzes in the kitchen? Here are several that come to mind.


Actress Julia Roberts is confident about her cooking skills. “I’m quite a good cook,” she told E! News. “I’m like a closet home ec teacher…I can really cook anything.” Roberts has said she often cooks fish for herself and her kids. And speaking of her three children, “They think that I’m a good cook,” Roberts told People. “They actually told me that I should open a restaurant.” She also relishes cooking for the holidays, particularly shredded Brussel sprouts. Roberts hasn’t published a cookbook, but we did find recipes attributed to her for peach crisp and banana hemp muffins. Or you can make the same summer salad the actress supposedly eats.


Chrissy Teigen started off as a supermodel. Then her love of cooking filtered into her professional life too. At this point, she’s created recipes for a limited Blue Apron release and also just launched her own home and cooking line at Target named “Cravings,” after the two cookbooks she’s released. Teigen describes cooking as “a time of peace” for herself. So maybe peace out to her tuna melt sandwich or the fried chicken wings that are a favorite of her husband, John Legend.


Lady Gaga, whose real name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, comes from a cooking Italian family. Her father started his own restaurant in New York and also published a cookbook. And apparently, Lady Gaga has inherited the family’s cooking genes. Her Instagram account occasionally features photos of her culinary activities. Sure, sometimes it’s topless cooking. But other times it’s more poignant like in the post she shared about her bringing food to the family of her dear friend who passed away. Want to try a Gaga/Germanotta family favorite? Check out her recipe for whole wheat pasta with a sweet fennel sauce.

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