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A new study investigating sex differences in the use of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures for acute ischaemic heart disease (IHD) in Chinese adults who were hospitalised with acute IHD, reported that women were less likely than men to have coronary angiography and revascularisation procedures.

The study published in the journal Heart was conducted by DPhil student Muriel Levy, it involved almost 39,000 IHD cases that were reported by electronic linkage to hospital records and included about 3,000 heart attack cases. Women were less likely than men to have a heart attack, but more likely to have angina or other types of IHD. However, when admitted to hospital, women were significantly less likely to have coronary angiography or revascularisation procedures to treat their condition. Although Chinese women had lower socioeconomic status than men and were more likely to be admitted to lower tier hospitals, socioeconomic and health system factors did not account for these differences.

Findings from this study showed that, despite some previous beliefs, socioeconomic and health system factors accounted for only a small proportion of the sex differences in the use of coronary procedures. The authors suggest that other factors related to disease severity or differences in clinical presentation may provide better explanation; physician bias or concerns about the safety of such procedures in women were also considered. Further systematic monitoring of clinical care in men and women was recommended to help identify possible reasons behind these discrepancies in treatment of IHD in China.