Guys have it so much easier, you've heard. And that may be true, at least when it comes to medical attention: Young women wait, on average, six minutes longer to receive an electrocardiogram for acute coronary syndrome (which can include a heart attack) than the men do, according to new research out of Montreal. Male patients also wait 21 minutes for an injection to unblock clogged arteries, whereas females wait 36. [Tweet this fact!]
Although women tend to make and keep doctor's appointments more regularly than men, they also tend to be less assertive and quieter than men in the doctor's office, which may affect their access to quality care, researchers say. Study author Roxanne Pelletier, Ph.D., also found that the young men in the study who exhibited traditionally feminine characteristics—including shyness, tenderness, and sensitivity to the needs of others—experienced the same treatment as young women.
One criticism of the research, though, is that it doesn't indicate whether the patients arrived to the hospital by ambulance or on their own, which typically impacts how quickly patients are triaged, Paul Armstrong, a cardiologist at the University of Alberta told Huffington Post Canada. Moreover, the study only looked at patients who survived their cardiac events.
Regardless, the results are consistent with recent research that has shown young ladies are more likely to die in the hospital after a heart attack than guys are. If anything, this illustrates how crucial it is to be clear with your doctor if you think you're having a heart attack or other cardiac event.
"If you have chest pain, focus on that," Pelletier says. "It's a representative sign of a cardiac event, so it should be the first symptom you report."
She also suggests you be clear, concise, and precise. Something as simple as, "I've had chest pain and shortness of breath since yesterday afternoon, and it hasn't gone away," can help your doctor pinpoint what might be happening. Time is key, especially when it comes to your heart. You are your own best advocate, so it pays to speak up in the doctor's office (learn what six things you must tell your doctor!).
Tell us: Have you ever had a negative experience at the doctor's or in the hospital? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @Shape_Magazine!