Health Library

Categories > Heart Health > Heart disease: Treatment

Men, women and chest pain

Women who experience chest pain are less likely to get standard treatment on their way to the hospital than men with the same symptoms, according to a new study from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Researchers looked at 683 cases in which emergency workers brought people ages 30 and older who were having chest pain to one of three hospitals. They measured how often the patients received aspirin and nitroglycerin (important early medicines for people who may be having a heart attack), heart rhythm monitoring and medication IV lines.

The results: Women were less likely than men to get proper EMS care: Just 24 percent were given aspirin compared to 32 percent of men, and 26 percent got nitroglycerin (33 percent of men did). Some 61 percent of women had an IV line put in, compared to 70 percent of men. This may happen because women’s heart symptoms are often similar to less severe illnesses, so women and healthcare providers may interpret them incorrectly. What to do? Explain your symptoms to your medical providers to make sure you’re being understood—and treated—properly.