Female physicians implement evidence-based guidelines for drug utilization in heart failure more often than their male counterparts, according to Magnus Baumhäkel and colleagues at the University Hospital of Saarland.
Meanwhile, female heart failure patients are less likely than male patients to receive guideline-recommended drugs, the scientists reported in European Journal of Heart Failure.
To reach these conclusions, the scientists carried out a cross-sectional, observational study of 1,857 New York Heart Association Class II heart failure patients who were treated in eastern Germany from March through November, 2006.
Just over 52% of the participants were male and 63% received care from male physicians.
Female participants were a bit older—their mean age was 70 while the men clocked in at 66.
The scientists found that 80% of heart failure patients received either an angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor or an angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB). Nearly 4% received both. Only 70% of the patients were receiving beta-blockers, a third recommended drug for heart failure.
But the key was that use of “ACE-inhibitors or ARBs was significantly higher in male compared with female patients, and recommended doses also tended to be higher in males,” wrote the scientists.
Men also tended to get higher doses of beta-blockers, consistent with trial findings showing that higher doses of all these drugs are more effective.
Even so, only half the participants got “sufficient doses of ACE-inhibitors and only every fourth patient [was treated] with the recommended dose of a beta-blocker,” they wrote.
All in all, the researchers were left to conclude somewhat gallingly that a “female patient was likely to receive the worst medical treatment from a male physician, whereas male patients were best treated by a female physician.”