Standardizing Heart Attack Care for Women Saves Lives

September 29th is World Heart Day. Cleveland Clinic research shows heart attack outcomes improved, in women particularly, when healthcare providers followed a standardized care plan.

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CLEVELAND – Each year about one million women worldwide suffer a serious type of heart attack caused by a blockage.

Previous research shows women, in comparison to men, often have lower survival rates and lower quality of life after these events.

Now, a Cleveland Clinic study shows this trend can be reversed when healthcare providers follow a standardized care plan. 

“The differences in terms of mortality, or survival, along with serious complications dropped dramatically in women, to the point where they are very similar to men –something that’s never been reported before,” said Umesh Khot, MD, head of Regional Cardiovascular Medicine at Cleveland Clinic, and senior author of the study.

Dr. Khot and his team established a standard care plan for men and women who suffered these severe heart attacks.

The plan included specific criteria for getting patients to the cardiac catheterization lab quickly, a checklist for care, as well as a procedural change to deliver care to the heart more efficiently.

Dr. Khot said the standard care plan resulted in dramatic improvement in how quickly people were treated across the board.

Five-year data shows heart attack outcomes improved in women particularly, reducing deaths by more than 50% and eliminating gender disparities. 

“We often focused in the past about being fast. I think, fast is important but what is even more important is to eliminate what we call ‘care variability’,” said Dr. Khot. “What that means is that we should have the same standard process in this type of life-threatening situation for everyone and if we do that, patients at high risk of having bad outcomes do even better.”

Dr. Khot urges anyone experiencing heart attack symptoms to seek medical care immediately, regardless of what’s going on with the pandemic.

He said it’s critically important to get to a hospital quickly if you suspect heart-related trouble.

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