How Heart Disease In Women Is Being Ignored, All Thanks To Gender Bias

By Cake Staff:

Heart disease has long been seen as something that primarily affects men, and women’s healthcare seems almost entirely limited to pregnancy and gynecological issues. Meaning cardiovascular issues were not even looked for in women. A longer life-expectancy in women might actually become a disadvantage, if that life has to be lead without proper medical care!

[envoke_twitter_link]Further revelations about the gendered imbalances in healthcare[/envoke_twitter_link] have come in the form of a new study by the American College of Cardiology Foundation. Focusing primarily on heart disease, its occurrence and treatment, the study found that even though women are as likely as men to suffer from it, they do not receive the same level of medical attention for.

[envoke_twitter_link]The risks to women’s cardiovascular health are much higher than previously imagined[/envoke_twitter_link], for two reasons:

Women seem to be developing these problems at a younger age (48.9 years, on average) than men (51.5 years), and the number of women with hypertension, diabetes and hypertension is actually more than men. The difference in numbers may be marginal, the highest among them being a gap of 16%, but lowered access to or provision of healthcare for women with these issues is a cause for concern. Mumbai-based cardiologist Dr Ganesh Kumar explains that diagnosis in women is actually a huge challenge. This is because the textbook on heart disease was written primarily by male practitioners, keeping in mind the functioning of the ‘typical’ cisgender male body. The medical world is rife with limitations just like these. The textbook on ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) was “written around how it manifests in boys, and research is almost exclusively focused on boys,” making it nearly impossible to detect and treat in young girls.

While these do not appear to be cases of openly malicious sidelining of an entire gender’s pain, it does happen. Even when period pain has been shown to be as bad as a heart attack, it isn’t treated as such. The the social factors behind this sidelining, malicious or not, require serious scrutiny. In a patriarchal system, no matter how advanced our science and our medical practices get, [envoke_twitter_link]preferential treatment will always endanger the lives of people, particularly women[/envoke_twitter_link]. In India, healthcare is just one among many areas where men are traditionally granted more access to resources than women. Families invest more in their sons, and many women will succumb to curable diseases because treatment was not made available to them. Ironically, even government medical interventions, like the badly botched forced sterilization camps, have also posed a significant threat to women, for whom healthcare and personal hygiene is, additionally, both limited and expensive.

While there is no point arguing over mortality rates between men and women, when we should be looking more closely at the different thing killing people of different genders. Studies like these reveal the unfortunate and potentially lethal lacunae in our health systems, and we must take the opportunity to improve them.