McKinsey: Women More Likely to die of Heart Attack Than Men

McKinsey Health Institute's Lucy Pérez says cardiovascular disease top killer of women yet physicians don't know their heart attack symptoms are different

Women are seven times likelier to die from a heart attack after they seek medical help, a leading McKinsey health expert says.

Lucy Pérez is an Affiliated Leader of the McKinsey Health Institute and a Senior Partner in McKinsey’s Boston office.

Speaking in a recent McKinsey podcast about problems surrounding women’s healthcare, one of the problems she addressed is the gender gap that exists around cardiovascular care.

Cardiovascular disease is the number-one killer of women, but the condition manifests differently in men and women. Yet, says the McKinsey health analyst, this is rarely taken into account when a woman presents with symptoms of a heart attack  

She says: “With heart attacks, there’s the typical understanding and representation even in the media that you feel this pressure on your left side during a heart attack. 

McKinsey: Women’s heart attack symptoms are different

“But the reality is that for many women who suffer from a heart attack, it may manifest as a general feeling of discomfort, nausea, or the feeling that something is off.

“As a result of this, women show up to the emergency room, and many times, physicians have not been trained to understand that heart attacks manifest differently for women compared with men. 

“One of our studies from a few years ago showed women have a seven times higher likelihood of dying upon showing up to an emergency room with symptoms of a heart attack.”

“That can be linked back to the idea women were not getting sex-appropriate care. 

“Women’s symptoms were being missed and minimised, and as a result of that, they may have been sent home instead of looked after with the right care.”

About McKinsey Health Institute 

The McKinsey Health Institute (MHI) is a non-profit entity within the global management consultancy business. It was founded because the world’s population is ageing, and health solutions are needed in response to this.

The MHI exists to:

  • Bring leaders together across governments, non-profits, for-profits, and academia to share learnings and take action
  • Design, conduct, invest in, and share research in conjunction with an ecosystem of experts and partner institutions
  • Work with partners across countries and domains to gather, secure, integrate, enrich, and openly share useful data
  • Catalyse and scale innovation through crowdsourcing, competition, investment, and transparency
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