Gender Matters

In class last week we discussed the topic of sickness. We questioned whether or not people naturally get sick. I was always taught that a human being grows old, gets sick, and dies. So, in my mind, the answer would be yes, everyone will naturally get sick. But, it was brought to my attention that sickness doesn’t generally happen unless pre-genetic. Of course, people get colds and things of that nature, but the chronic illnesses don’t usually happen naturally. This was interesting to me because I’ve always thought that getting sick was just in the cards for everyone, but I was wrong. We went on to discuss major illnesses like cancer, obesity, and heart disease. I was also surprised to learn that women are more likely to die of heart disease than men.

Heart disease is an extremely serious issue, so to discover that doctors don’t properly diagnose women with it baffled me. Men tend to properly get diagnosed because they don’t go to the doctor as often as women do. If a man goes to the doctor complaining of heart problems or pain, the doctor will be more inclined to run some tests and look at it as a serious problem they need to take care of. But if a woman goes to the doctor complaining of the same symptoms as a man, the doctor is less likely to take her seriously simply because women take more frequent trips to the doctor’s office than men. The doctor will probably just end up telling her she needs to get some rest or that she’s just stressed. Gender inequality at its finest!

I was a little upset after learning about this gender bias towards women so I did a little research. Apparently, women are treated less aggressively for heart disease than men. One of the reasons people may accept this is because it has been said that women have different symptoms than men, and the diagnostic tests may not be as accurate in women. So in order to detect heart disease in women, there are different methods, as well as different treatments that need to be acknowledged. However, this does not give doctors the right to simply ignore a woman when she complains of heart problems. It means that doctors should strive harder to detect these symptoms in women because they see now that they are more difficult to find.

It has also been said that a woman’s heart is different from a man’s heart. The research that I found wasn’t as much as I would’ve liked, but it’s enough. I did conclude that a woman’s heart is smaller than a man’s heart, as well as a woman’s arteries. Research shows that it takes a woman’s heart longer to relax after every heartbeat. This could coincide with the fact that women have a 50% chance of dying during heart surgery than men, due to fact that a woman’s heart operates differently. Researchers also believe that is why women are more likely die after their first heart attack.

Heart attack symptoms are different in women, which brings me back to my first point about doctors not properly diagnosing women. Women often tend to complain about pain under their breastbone, indigestion, abdominal pain, nausea, and difficulty breathing. Doctors easily misinterpret symptoms of a heart attack with a gall bladder disease or some sort of anxiety attack. Women are also more likely to experience a heart attack later on in life, especially when they have other diseases such as diabetes, that sometimes connect to heart attack symptoms.

I’ve said all of this to say that doctors have got to be more careful. It’s quite simple if you ask me. Doctors, I know you all are busy, but it’s vital that you all take the proper precautions when it comes to women. Yes, we do visit the doctor more than men, and yes it may not always be about something drastic. But, it is the doctor’s job to take our feelings into consideration. Do not simply ignore us and send us home with a note to get some over the counter medicine. I think it’s much more to it. I found all of this research about how different a woman’s heart is which means that the information is out there. We are becoming more knowledgeable about the gender differences, therefore doctors should really take us more seriously. We know that the diagnostic tests aren’t always accurate in women so there has to be other ways to detect it. All I’m saying is that women deserve the same treatment as men. If it takes a few more extra tests or a few more extra dollars, so what! Aren’t we worth it? According to James Brown, this is a man’s world, but it would be nothing without a woman or a girl.

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