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EMS Calls Treat more Women than Men

According to a study published in 2013 by Prehospital Emergency Care, EMS emergency responses are higher in women (54%) than in men (46%). When analyzing by region, the South is slightly higher for women at 55 percent and lowest in the West at 51 percent.

“As the first unit of service in the spectrum of health care, out-of-hospital emergency medical services (EMS) provides both transportation to the hospital and initial lifesaving and stabilizing care,” noted the article.

Although the data used in the study was aged and limited – analysis of 2010 National Emergency Medical Services Information System (NEMSIS) responses in 29 states – the question of gender specific medical treatment, especially as it relates to EMS care, was worth noting.  More specifically the question of diagnosis and how men and women respond differently to prompts has caused some in EMS to reassess care.

 Last year, the American Heart Association published, Symptom Recognition and Healthcare Experiences of Young Women With Acute Myocardial Infarction. The study attempted to understand why women under 55 are twice as likely to die from a heart attack than their male counterparts. Researchers concluded that women in the study, “did not accurately assess their cardiovascular risk, reported poor preventive health behaviors, and delayed seeking care for symptoms.”

Those numbers would align with 2010 NEMSIS data. Of 7.6 million EMS responses, just 13 percent of those treated cited chest pain or cardiac conditions. The mean age of the patients also meets the under 55 threshold when women are twice as likely to die than men from a heart attack.

“Many delays occurred because women simply waited longer than men to call emergency medical services, with women waiting an average of one hour compared to 45 minutes for men. Our findings should set off an alarm for women, who may not understand their personal risk of heart disease and may take more time to realize they are having a heart attack and need urgent medical help,” said Raffaele Bugiardini, M.D., professor of cardiology, University of Bologna, Italy, and lead author of the study,

Challenging what has been the status quo in EMS is what Ferno, a manufacturer of products to the EMS industry, has focused on.

“We spend time with medics in the field so that our products are what they require,” says Jason Wender, global marketing director for Ferno.  SafePak is part of the company’s iN/TRAXX Integrated Ambulance Component System. “The purpose of the system is to allow the medic to treat the patient from a secure seated position. Assessing the patient and having medical equipment within arm’s reach saves time and allows for an organized workspace that can be set up for specific functions.”

An unorganized workflow process can be chaotic and overshadow subtle patient symptoms of a heart attack in women, which can be easily misread.

“Instead of crushing chest pain, [women] may have shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, or pain in the back, neck or jaw,” added Dr. Bugiardini. These symptoms may develop slowly over hours or days and even come and go. Women and medical personnel may also attribute symptoms to other health conditions such as indigestion, which may lead to misdiagnoses.”

Learn more about symptoms of heart attacks in women.

Learn more about Ferno’s iN/TRAXX Integrated Ambulance Component System