Women Found to Have Less Access to Cardiologists

Access to specialist consultations narrows the gender gap in quality of care
By Jane Parry
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, April 28 (HealthDay News) -- Women with coronary artery disease or congestive heart failure have less access to consultations with cardiologists compared with men, according to study findings published online April 27 in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Nakela L. Cook, M.D., of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute in Bethesda, Md., and colleagues analyzed data on 9,761 adults who were receiving primary care treatment for coronary artery disease or congestive heart failure between 2000 and 2005, during which time 79.6 percent of those with coronary artery disease had a consultation with a cardiologist, as did 90.3 percent of congestive heart failure patients.

Women had fewer consultations than men for both conditions, and had 15 percent fewer follow-up consultations than men, the investigators found. Patients at community health centers were also short-changed, having 20 percent fewer follow-up consultations than those at hospital-based practices, while black and Hispanic patients had 13 percent fewer follow-up consultations versus white patients, the authors note.

"In our cohort, consultation improved performance scores, and women, in particular, had greater improvement than men when they received a cardiology consultation," Cook and colleagues write. "Collaborative efforts by policy makers, health system administrators and physicians are needed to improve equity in access to cardiovascular specialists, especially for women and patients at community health centers, because consultation may improve performance and reduce gender disparities in quality of care."

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