Turns out I’m right to be afraid of being rejected by doctors, writes JENNI MURRAY

JENNI MURRAY: At 72, with a background of being overweight, years of being sedentary as a journalist and broadcaster and having paid too little attention to healthy eating, drinking and smoking habits, I want to know that if I see a doctor about strange chest symptoms, he won't dismiss me, as has happened to so many women, as having indigestion, a funny turn, or muscle pain.

How my heart sank (proof, I hope, that it still works) when I read what feels like an increasingly familiar story. “Sexism means women are denied heart treatment.” This terrifying and infuriating news comes as a result of a study by researchers at Imperial College London and the University of Zurich.

They examined data from 420,000 heart patients across Europe between 2005 and 2017, and concluded that nearly 12,000 women in the UK had been incorrectly told they were not at high risk of dying from a heart attack.

This resulted in some missing appropriate care for two decades and deaths that could have been avoided if they had been classified as high risk and received emergency treatment.

I’m really scared about it. At 72 years old, with a background of being overweight, years of sedentary life as a journalist and broadcaster and having paid too little attention to healthy habits in terms of food, drink and tobacco, I want to know that if I go to a doctor for strange things. Chest symptoms, I won’t be dismissed—as has happened to so many women—as having indigestion, a “funny turn” or a sore muscle.

JENNI MURRAY: At 72, with a background of being overweight, years of being sedentary as a journalist and broadcaster and having paid too little attention to healthy eating, drinking and smoking habits, I want to know that if I see a doctor about strange chest symptoms, I won’t be dismissed – as has happened to so many women – as having indigestion, a “funny twist” or a sore muscle

Apparently, doctors have continued to assume that most heart attack victims are fat middle-aged men, so they are much more likely to be identified as high-risk patients than women.

The researchers say this is partly because the scoring system for heart attack risk was developed using only data from men.

“We need to ensure that cardiac tests and treatments are as proven in women as they are in men, and that we address the persistent biases that permeate society and health care,” says Dr. Sonya Babu-Narayan, the organization’s associate medical director charity of the British Heart Foundation. .

Well, obviously. Women are, after all, 51 per cent of the UK population and expect to be treated the same as men. But we obviously aren’t, as none of this is new.

A 2016 study published in the British Medical Journal found that young women in the UK are almost twice as likely as men to die in hospital after a heart attack. And it has been more than three years since the British feminist Caroline Criado Perez published her extraordinary work Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias In A World Designed For Men, excerpts of which were published in this newspaper.

The proof that we still live in a man’s world was most telling in her section on health care, which she says is “systematically discriminating against women, leaving them chronically misunderstood, mistreated and misdiagnosed.”

After all, women make up 51 percent of the UK population and expect to be treated the same as men.  But obviously we're not, as none of this is new (File Image)

Women are, after all, 51 per cent of the UK population and expect to be treated the same as men. But obviously we’re not, as none of this is new (File Image)

The habit of seeing men’s bodies as predetermined began, she says, with the ancient Greeks, thanks to the philosopher Aristotle for seeing women as a “mutilated male,” an ironic thanks, obviously. It is to this hypothesis that he attributes the huge data gap between men’s and women’s health. Women’s bodies, she says, are seen as too complex, so we’re often excluded from clinical trials.

With so much evidence of how men’s and women’s bodies respond differently to serious conditions and the awareness that some drugs developed with a male pattern could be harmful to women, why do these dangerous mistakes persist?

How come doctors haven’t figured out yet that women often have different symptoms than men. Only one in eight have chest pain, for example, so are women’s “atypical” heart attacks often missed?

Mail on Sunday columnist Dr Ellie Cannon may have found one of the answers.

Evidence given to the Department of Health for its proposed Women’s Health Strategy for England showed, she said, that “women have historically not been listened to… they are told that the painful symptoms are normal or that they will go away.” ‘

Earlier this year, he called for a healthcare revolution.

I have suffered in the past from doctors who did not listen or dismissed my concerns. Most notably, in the 1980s, an obstetrician told me he couldn’t understand why a woman of my intelligence was making such a fuss about an internal exam. He was screaming in pain. It turned out to be an ectopic pregnancy, which could have killed me without quick surgery.

As for my heart, I think I’m lucky now to have a GP who listened to me when my blood pressure seemed to be rising. He prescribed statins which should offer some protection. (And no, as another health story confirmed this week, they haven’t caused any aches or pains – I had them before I started taking them!)

How much longer do we have to wait for clinical trials to be done separately in men and women now that we know how much female physiology differs from male physiology?

One thing is for sure, proper research is based on the correct use of language. It certainly won’t be helped by the NHS’s current obsession with sex and gender and erasing all traces of the word ‘woman’. A third of NHS organizations now use ‘pregnant people’, ‘service users’ or ‘people giving birth’ instead of just ‘mothers’ or ‘women’.

The physiology of a trans man is feminine and that of a trans woman, masculine. I doubt her heart attack symptoms are being misinterpreted based on gender instead of sex. We now know that this can lead to fatal errors.

Sorry Agatha, Val’s Queen of Crime

Agatha Christie’s estate is furious that fellow crime writer Val McDermid is using the title Queen of Crime, trademarked to apply only to Agatha.

What a stupid idea. When a queen dies, her title is surely inherited by the next generation, and Val is a worthy successor.

I have read all her books and she is the only one that can keep me up all night without being able to put her down.

The estate of Agatha Christie (pictured) is furious that fellow crime writer Val McDermid is using the title Queen of Crime, which is trademarked to apply only to Agatha

I have read all her books and she is the only one that can keep me up all night, unable to put her down.

The estate of Agatha Christie (left) is furious that fellow crime writer Val McDermid (right) is using the title Queen of Crime, trademarked to apply only to Agatha

Today I went to the airport to pick up my Ukrainian guests Zoriana and Ustym, who did so well in their exams that they went to Lviv to present themselves.

I wanted Zoriana to enjoy a better kitchen and a second bathroom when she got back, but the house is a tip. Why do builders never seem to finish on time?

I know all too well what it feels like to join the breast cancer club that no woman wants to be a member of, so bless TV presenter Sarah Beeny, who was recently diagnosed with the disease that killed her mother.

How right he is when he said earlier this week that his mother died to make sure he won’t.

Women who suffered in the past led to a great deal of research. May Sarah benefit from this as I did.

I know all too well what it feels like to join the breast cancer club that no woman wants to be a member of, so bless TV presenter Sarah Beeny (pictured with her children), recently diagnosed with the disease that killed her her mother.

I know all too well what it feels like to join the breast cancer club that no woman wants to be a member of, so bless TV presenter Sarah Beeny (pictured with her children), recently diagnosed with the disease that killed her her mother.

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