At the end of September, The British Heart Foundation published an important report, Bias and Biology, looking at the way biological differences and unconscious biases impact on the way women are treated during and after having a heart attack. It’s a problem that’s killed 8000 women in a decade, and ties in with so much of what I see on Hysterical Women. I wrote for both Stylist and The i about the significance of this deadly gender health gap, exploring the experiences of two women, and looking at the bigger picture of sexism in healthcare. I also wrote about induction for Patient, tackling myths and misconceptions about the procedure, and explaining what women can expect if they make the choice to be induced.
What you need to know about inducing labour – for Patient:
Induction is a process of artificially kickstarting labour, most commonly used if your baby is overdue. According to the NHS, one in every five labours in the UK are induced, so here’s what you need to know if you’re offered induction to get the birth moving along.
Why induction might be offered
All women who haven’t spontaneously gone into labour by 42 weeks of pregnancy will be offered induction. Besides the fact you’re likely to be fairly fed up by that stage, there’s also an increased risk of stillbirth or other complications for the baby which increases the longer past your due date you are.
‘Doctors dismissed my heart problems as a panic attack – yet I couldn’t walk 50 yeards’ – for The i:
When Lorraine Kinzel had a heart attack in 2013, at just 44-years-old, she was as shocked as anyone – but doctors reassured her she was young and would bounce back to normal life in no time.
Within five weeks, Lorraine started experiencing angina symptoms of pain and breathlessness. For the next seven months she went backwards and forwards to doctors – even being taken to A&E by ambulance on a couple of occasions – but was repeatedly sent home, her symptoms dismissed as “panic”, and told she was perfectly fine.
Lorraine is one of the 35,000 women admitted to hospital following a heart attack each year. But a report published today by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) warns women are facing a ‘heart attack gender gap’ at every stage of diagnosis, treatment and aftercare. The real-life impact of that gender gap is shocking: the BHF estimates that, over a 10 year period, more than 8,000 women in England and Wales died needlessly from heart attacks because they received worse quality care than men.
Yentl syndrome: How this little-known gender bias could be costing women their lives – for Stylist:
When you hear the words ‘heart attack’, you probably picture a middle-aged man clutching at his chest, before falling dramatically to the ground.
For us women, this is a problem. A new report from the British Heart Foundation (BHF) has highlighted an alarming ‘heart attack gender gap’, and it’s costing women our lives. BHF-funded research estimates that more than 8,200 women needlessly died over a 10-year period because the treatment they received was worse than that given to men.
It’s just yet another example of how dangerous everyday sexism can be when it comes to our health.
As a freelance health journalist, and founder of feminist health blog Hysterical Women, I see evidence of this danger all the time. There’s a growing body of research into the ‘gender pain gap’, showing that women’s health concerns are less likely to be taken seriously than men’s across a huge range of conditions. Gender bias in healthcare is complex, and deeply ingrained – ranging from the subtle and insidious, through to downright medical misogyny – but it’s time we urgently started addressing it.
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