Researchers from the George Washington University (GW) examined the care that women and men with heart attack symptoms receive from emergency medical services (EMS) after a 911 call and found that women were less likely to receive aspirin, be resuscitated, or be transported to the hospital in ambulances using lights and sirens.
Dr. Melissa L. McCarthy, a professor of health policy at the GW Milken Institute School of Public Health (Milken Institute SPH) and professor of emergency medicine at GW School of Medicine & Health Sciences (SMHS), and her colleagues used 2010-2013 data from the National Emergency Medical Services Information System (NEMSIS) database, which collects EMS patient care reports from 46 states.
They analyzed EMS responses for patients age 40 and up with chest pain or cardiac arrest (more than 2 million during the study period) and examined medications and treatments recommended by American Heart Association guidelines for possible cardiovascular events or cardiac arrest: aspirin, electrocardiogram, and cardiac monitoring for chest pain, and resuscitation and defibrillation for cardiac arrest. They also examined use of lights and siren to transport patients, and time intervals between EMS dispatch and arrival at the hospital.
Overall, the researchers found low rates of recommended treatment for chest pain and higher rates for cardiac arrest. Women with chest pain were less likely than men to receive aspirin or be transported with lights and siren, and women with cardiac arrest were less likely to be resuscitated. Differences were small but statistically significant – and, the authors note, small differences still translate to thousands of patients.
The study was published in Women’s Health Issues, the official journal of the Jacobs Institute of Women’s Health, which is based in the Department of Health Policy and Management at GW Milken Institute SPH.