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Women Have a Better Chance of Surviving Heart Attacks When Treated by Female Doctors, Study Says

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Women have a higher chance of surviving heart attacks when they are treated by female doctors over male doctors, a new study suggests.

Mortality rates for women who undergo a traumatic event like a heart attack are higher than men. Researchers found that disparity could be explained by the gender of the doctor treating them, according to a study this month in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. An analysis of heart attack patients admitted to Florida hospitals between 1991 and 2010 found a higher mortality rate for women who were treated by male doctors.

Researchers looked at 580,000 heart attack cases and found that nearly 12% of patients had died in the hospital, The Guardian reports. But when patients shared their gender with their doctor, the probability of their dying fell by more than 0.6 percentage points.

Men and women alike had similar results after being treated by female doctors, “suggesting that unique challenges arise when male physicians treat female patients,” researchers wrote. The study found that male doctors who have spent more time with female patients have more success in treating them.

Previous research has found that female doctors have better outcomes than their male counterparts in other areas as well — patients of female surgeons are 4% less likely to die, have complications 30 days after surgery or be readmitted to the hospital compared with male surgeons, according to a 2017 study. Another study found that patients seeing general internists had lower death rates with female doctors than with male doctors.


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Write to Mahita Gajanan at mahita.gajanan@time.com