Monday, March 05, 2012

Sexism in Government Heart Health Programs

I saw this ad campaign sprinkled around O'hare airport last evening:

Click image to enlarge
Ask yourself: are the symptoms depicted in this ad any different for men? Why aren't men targetted similarly? Since men are affected by heart disease more frequently than women, why are men being neglected? Are men's tax dollars paying for these ads?  Do men also have a separate division similar to called to (No, it seems men's health issues have been relegated to a subdirectory of

While understand the importance of increasing awareness of heart disease in women, let's not forget the issue of heart disease is just as important (if not more so) for men.



Anonymous said...

Why do I always smile when I hear a call for equal rights by men --can't help it. I know I have an evil streak.

Anyway, the ad targets women to get things checked out because many women tend to over-ride "system" warnings. Maybe it has to do with having a uterus and having to "deal" with pain for decades. Other types of pain, seem trivial as tolerance is built and some tend to just deal and keep going. At least that's my spin. And I've done that myself, once putting myself in some danger, although not cardiac related.


vanderleun said...

The reason for this sort of parsing is a disease, a mental disease among the political and bureaucratic classes that will not soon be cured.

ShakesandStones said...

I agree Wes. If you just look at the amount of breast cancer coverage is to prostate cancer even though both diseases have about the same rate of prevalence.

SCRN, I disagree. I think women are far better at drawing concern to their health issues and is more the reason for the ad than they ignore their symptoms. Women are far better at looking after themselves than men. But I don't think women should be to blame. Men in general need to swallow their pride and stand up and help them selves. There is no shame in being sick. There is no shame in trying to help yourself and others like you.

I applaud Dr Wes in drawing attention to this inequality and governments should pay attention to it. But so should men. Women's health is an issue because women want it to be and so it should. Men need to draw the same amount of attention to men's health because they deserve it too.

DrWes said...

Well said, Andrew.

Anonymous said...

vanderleun, no offense, but you sound mad at somebody for reasons that have nothing to do with the topic of heart attacks.

And as for you two cardiologists . . .

"Women have a higher risk of dying from a heart attack than men do, partly because they often don't realize they're having a heart attack and partly because they delay getting help."
Women are less likely than men to have the typical "Hollywood heart attack." Chest pain was not the main symptom in about 46 percent of women who had a heart attack.

and . . . "Women don't call 911," says Sharonne Hayes, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic.

and so on and so forth and so on . . . for pete's sake, this is a health PSA that happens to be targeted at women. IMO, you're way off base to complain. I don't get huffy when I see ads for prostate testing. And I don't think my government is wasting my money.

p.s. I reallly liked the last post in this column. (Wassup now? Bad day? O'Hare puts me in a bad mood too.)

Anonymous said...

So the bottom line is CMS kills women? When a woman comes to me with dizziness/nausea/fatigue rather than chest pain, what should I code the DX so CMS will pay for a stress test?

I'll just engage in 'fraud' and code an acceptable DX to get the stress test. What a joke!

Your benevolent, PC government is the problem...covert rationing.

Anonymous said...

It's your nature boys. You don't like reading instructions or being told what to do. Getting you guys in for prevention off of an ad simply is not gonna happen. Now don't you lie to me because you know it's true. But no worries, I still love you and will be there for you. The more things change the more they are the same :)


Anonymous said...

As an ED doc, the general ratio of men to women patients for all comers
is 1:2, ie 60-70% of patients seen
are female. This has been going on
for several decades, though when I started it was about 45:55 M to F.
Women have a much shorter fuse when
it comes to seeking medical attention than men. They have more chest pain, a whole lot more abd pain, head pain
and musculoskeletal pain than men.
Now we are told that women have
microvascular CADz that causes atypical symptoms, making life interesting for everyone with dx and tx conundrums.

Allison said...

...let's not forget the issue of heart disease is just as important (if not more so) for men.

Why would it be "more so" for men? How about equally so? The Heart Sisters blog speaks more eloquently than I ever could about the difficulty of having women and medical professionals recognize when a women is having a heart attack. Frankly, your attitude here surprises me.

Subhasis said...

Wes, I think it's well established that men tend to be represented at much higher levels than women in CAD trials. For example, women were38% of patients in JUPITER, 22% in SYNTAX and 15% in COURAGE. Maybe Rush Limbaugh could see this as "antimale" -- I can't.

vasi said...

they should've probably insisted more on the atypical chest pain which is more frequent in women ...

Kamran said...

The men's ad should have a fat guy in front of a half eaten plate of a cheeseburger and fries with a queasy look on his face while reaching for some Maalox.