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Don’t dismiss women’s concerns about heart disease, cardiologists told at RSM event

The damaging impacts of treating women’s heart health less seriously than men’s were underlined at the end of a day-long ‘State of the Art’ Cardiology training event at the Royal Society of Medicine on Tuesday (27 September 2022).

The case was made by Professor Martha Gulati, a Cardiologist at Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in the USA and an international expert in women’s hearts and heart disease prevention. It rounded off a fascinating day of educational talks by leading experts in cardiology from around the world.

Professor Gulati presented current and established data that paints a conclusive picture of worse health outcomes for women in cardiac care, and argued against ‘bikini’ healthcare – referring to an over-emphasis on women’s breasts and reproductive system over other parts of their body.

She showed how women presenting with chest pain or heart symptoms statistically are under-treated, receive less urgent attention and are more likely to die of their condition. Women – and even female animals - are also significantly under-represented in cardiac medical trials, despite heart disease being the number one killer of women in the USA.

Dr Gulati said: “I hear it from patients time and time again where they've been dismissed from an emergency room, dismissed by a physician, and they start to lose trust in the health care system. And then you wonder why they present so late, and they're in heart failure and their heart is completely damaged.

“We need to use our common sense but we also need to not dismiss 52% of the population.”

Following the talk, Dr Sukhjinder Nijjer, President of the RSM’s Cardiology Section, said: “We keep being told that women present in a different way, that they are ‘atypical’.

“In fact, women present with the same symptoms as men and we are missing them because we don't listen well enough. That was absolutely striking.”

The event, organised by the Cardiology Section, brought together experts from around the world, who provided their views on state-of-the-art advances in key subspecialties of cardiology. They discussed novel changes in the understanding, diagnosis and management of coronary disease, heart failure and valvular heart disease, as well as a focus on cardiac prevention and electrophysiology.

Other speakers included:

  • Dr Mirvat Alasnag, the first female Interventional Cardiologist in the Middle East, who works at King Fahd Armed Forces Hospital, Saudi Arabia
  • Professor Dan Atar, Oslo University Hospital, Norway
  • Dr Susan Connolly, Bon Secours Cavan Clinic, Ireland
  • Dr Jubin Joseph, Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California
  • Dr Ankur Kalra, Cleveland Clinic, USA
  • Dr Ajay Kirtane, Columbia University and New York Presbyterian, USA
  • Dr John Mandrola, host of This Week in Cardiology podcast and Electrophysiologist, Louisville, Kentuky, USA
  • Professor John McMurray, University of Glasgow, UK
  • Professor Jagmeet Singh, Harvard Medical School and Mass General Research Center, USA

A recording is available for all registered delegates for up to 60 days after the event. 

The RSM Cardiology Section provides programmes of training days for general cardiology and advanced sub-specialty training for London/Thames programme trainees. Visit the Cardiology Section website for more information and details of upcoming events.

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