According to a new study conducted by the Canadian Medical Association, married male heart attack victims arrive at the hospital, on average, half an hour before single men. The female victims arrived roughly at the same time regardless of marital status.
While it is no surprise that having a wife, who is likely on top of her partner’s physical health, will lead to quicker action, the question is why the same isn’t true for married women in similar situations. Do men simply not encourage their wives to take care of themselves?
“Wives are more likely to take the caregiver role and advise their husbands to go to the E.R.,” Dr. Clare L. Atzema told the New York Times. “But as my husband put it, even if I wasn’t there telling him to go to the hospital, he’d hear my voice telling him to do so. Even when they’re not there, women have a pronounced effect.”*
Another question worth considering is whether the study accounted for an ultimate balance in male and female treatment since men are known to seek medical treatment less often than women. A study cited by the Yale Medical Group explains that despite being at higher risk for medical problems, men are often too “macho” to seek medical help.
But regardless of the possible explanations as to why men are failing to take their wives to the hospital faster, both men and women should be aware that heart disease is not only a male problem. It’s also the leading cause of death of women in America—so women of any marital status should be aware of the symptoms.
*Correction, July 20, 2011: The original version of this post misunderstood the CMA study. The men and women in the study were already experiencing chest pains. The post has been edited to reflect this.