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Dr Kathryn Lindley Addresses Barriers to Women’s Heart Disease Diagnosis

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It’s important for clinicians to listen to patients and know how heart disease may affect women differently than men, said Kathryn Lindley, MD, FACC, Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

In this interview, Kathryn Lindley, MD, FACC, associate professor of medicine and associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, highlights how women face significant challenges in heart disease diagnosis and treatment, largely due to historical disparities in research focusing predominantly on men. According to Lindley, social barriers such as lack of health care insurance, transportation, and childcare further hinder women's access to necessary care, and addressing these issues requires a comprehensive approach.

In a previous interview, Lindley highlighted how women can prioritize and advocate for their heart health.

Transcript

Can you share some insight into the specific challenges women face in accessing accurate diagnosis and treatment for heart disease?

Yes, unfortunately, even yet today, we see pretty disparate outcomes when it comes to heart health for women compared to men, and that's probably for several reasons. As you mentioned, women are not nearly as well studied as men are, and this is for a lot of different reasons. It's more difficult for women to participate in clinical trials because, as we talked about earlier, you're busy working your job and taking care of your kids and taking care of your parents, and it's just physically more challenging to set aside time to participate in research studies. So, a lot of our studies have really focused on men's health and not thought about the ways that it might be different for women.

We know that women tend to have other barriers to accessing care as well. Women are oftentimes less likely to have health care insurance or transportation or childcare, things like that that can just be social barriers to getting the care they need. So, I think it really is going to take a multi-pronged approach to improving this. Number one, from a scientific perspective, we just have to be really engaged and thoughtful about how we can make sure we are giving women the opportunity to participate in our research studies and specifically studying how sex and gender interact with cardiovascular health.

As clinicians, it's important that we're listening to our patients and are well educated on the ways that heart disease might affect women differently. And then for patients, oftentimes women don't realize that they're at higher risk for certain heart conditions. So, I think that's where it's really important that women just are able to access that knowledge and then advocate for themselves when they feel like something's not quite right.

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