Date: August 7th, 2021
Guest Skeptic: Dr. Susanne (Susy) DeMeester is an Emergency Physician practicing at St. Charles Medical Center in Bend, Oregon. She has been very involved with EMRAP’s CorePendium as the cardiovascular section editor and has a chapter coming out soon on women and acute coronary syndrome.
Dr. DeMeester was on SGEM#222 as part of the SGEMHOP series. She was the lead author of a study looked at whether an emergency department algorithm for atrial fibrillation management decrease the number of patients admitted to hospital.
The SGEM Bottom Line: There are clearly patients with primary atrial fibrillation who can be managed safely as outpatients. There are no evidence-based criteria for identifying high-risk patients who require admission, so for now we will have to rely on clinical judgement.
The person lamented that it would be nice if a cardiac case scenario was of a female patient. This made me review past SGEM episodes which confirmed there has been a gender bias. While there were a half-dozen episodes that did have female patients, they were the minority. So, I felt a good way to address the issue would be to invite an expert like Dr. DeMeester to discuss this gender bias.
This is not the first SGEM episode that has addressed the gender gap in the house of medicine. I had the honour of presenting at the 2019 FeminEM conference called Female Idea Exchange (FIX19).
My FIX19 talk was called from Evidence-Based Medicine to Feminist-Based Medicine. It looked at the three pillars of EBM: relevant scientific literature, clinicians, and patients. I realized that each of the three pillars contained biases against women. In the presentation, multiple references were provided to support the claim that a gender gap does exist.
The conclusion from the FIX19 talk was that we should be moving from Evidence-Based Medicine (nerdy and male dominated) to Feminist-Based Medicine (recognizing the inequities in the house of medicine) to Gender-Based Medicine (acknowledging the spectrum of gender and sexuality) and ultimately to Humanist- Based Medicine.
The SGEM did a regular critical appraisal of a recent publication with Dr. Ester Choo (SGEM#248). It covered the study published in AEM looking at the continuation of gender disparities among academic emergency physicians (Wiler et al AEM 2019).
We also did an entire SGEM Xtra episode with Dr. Michelle Cohen on the broader issue of the gender pay gap (SGEM Xtra: Money, Money, Money It’s A Rich Man’s World – In the House of Medicine). This was based on the Canadian Medical Association Journal article focusing on closing the gender pay gap in Canada (Cohen and Kiren 2020).
Five questions about gender disparities when it comes to cardiovascular disease.
- What is the burden of cardiovascular disease in females and is it the same as males?
- We know females are often excluded from being subjects in medical research. Are female represented proportionally in cardiovascular disease clinical research?
- Are there differences between males and females with regards to cardiovascular disease risk factors?
- Do females who have a cardiovascular event present differently to the emergency department?
- Have any sex differences been identified in the treatment and outcomes of females with cardiovascular events?
Please listen to the SGEM podcast to hear Dr. DeMeester’s answers to these five questions.
What can be done to address this gender gap?
The Lancet gathered a group of international experts to answer this question. The commission published recommendations to reduce the global burden of cardiovascular disease in women by 2030 (Vogel et al). This Includes:
- Acknowledging the current burden of disease
- Raising awareness about the differences in presentations and sex-specific and under-recognized risk factors
- Increasing the number of women included in clinical trials
The European Society of Cardiology supported this initiative. They published an article called: Cardiovascular Disease in Women – Reducing the gender gap in prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease.
The Lancet also created a number of infographics to help with the knowledge translation of these recommendations.
The SGEM will be back next episode doing a structured critical appraisal of a recent publication. Trying to cut the knowledge translation window down from over ten years to less than one year using the power of social media. The ultimate goal of the SGEM is for patients get the best care, based on the best evidence.
Remember to be skeptical of anything you learn, even if you heard it on the Skeptics’ Guide to Emergency Medicine.
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