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Women with cardiac symptoms are more likely than men to experience delays in emergency care

Research Activities, June 2009, No. 346

When it comes to seeking treatment for a heart attack or other cardiac event, getting to the hospital quickly is critical, especially for women. Women often delay seeking emergency care and are at higher risk of dying. As such, the emergency medical services (EMS) system plays an important role in expediting treatment. In a new study, researchers found that women are 50 percent more likely than men to experience delays in EMS care.

The researchers retrospectively examined the records for adult residents of 10 municipalities in Dallas County, Texas, who made a call to 911 between January 1 and December 31, 2004. These calls were received by 29 hospitals and 98 EMS stations. A total of 5,887 patients with suspected cardiac-related symptoms were analyzed. A delay in EMS was defined as being more than 15 minutes beyond the median elapsed time (34 minutes).

On average, women arrived at the hospital 2.3 minutes slower than men. Average transport times were also longer for Asian/Pacific Islanders (2.9 minutes) and Native Americans (3.0 minutes). Women had significantly higher odds of being delayed even after the researchers adjusted for time of day and other variables. Factors increasing the likelihood of being delayed included evening rush hour travel, bypassing a local hospital, and living in a densely populated neighborhood. The study was supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS10282 and T32 HS00060).

See "Elapsed time in emergency medical services for patients with cardiac complaints: Are some patients at greater risk for delay?," by Thomas W. Concannon, Ph.D., John L. Griffith, Ph.D., David M. Kent, M.D., M.S., and others, in the January 2009 Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes 2, pp. 9-15.

Current as of June 2009
Internet Citation: Women with cardiac symptoms are more likely than men to experience delays in emergency care: Research Activities, June 2009, No. 346. June 2009. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://archive.ahrq.gov/news/research-activities/jun09/0609RA15.html