Heart disease in women may be misdiagnosed as stress

Doctors' diagnoses may vary based on genderWhen women report symptoms of coronary heart disease, family doctors may be more likely to diagnose a psychological problem such as stress, according to new research.

The findings, presented at the Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics meeting, revealed that physicians may vary their diagnosis based on gender in cases where a stressful incident is also cited as a factor in the patient’s life.

As part of the study, internists and physicians read two vignettes about a 47-year-old male and a 56-year-old female who had experienced a stressful situation in their life and were now suffering from symptoms such as chest pain and irregular breathing.

Men were given the diagnosis of coronary heart disease more than twice as often as women, while women were more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety.

When the additional factor of the stressful situation was omitted from the stories, men and women were equally likely to receive a diagnosis of heart disease.

“In the case of women, anxiety appears to have a pervasive influence on medical judgments regardless of the gender of the health care provider making the evaluations,” commented lead researcher Dr. Gabrielle M. Chiaramonte.

Both men and women looking to boost their heart health have turned to oral chelation to help keep their arteries clear.