ICU patient - Gender affects survival

Women are more likely to die in intensive care from male-dominated conditions, including cardiac issues, than men. And men are also worse of if they end up in ICU with conditions normally associated with women’s health.

These are the findings of a study involving almost 1.5 million Australian and New Zealand ICU patients, reported by the Age.

The study found, if in ICU following heart surgery, women were approximately 1.5 times more likely to die than men. They were also seen to be more likely to die in ICU following a cardiac arrest compared to men.

The study has been published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. It involved more than 10 years’ worth of data from 200 hospitals in Australia and New Zealand.

Also read: Census Data 2022 – More than half of Baby Boomers have long-term health condition

Interestingly the researchers also found the phenomenon also extended to men. Men, who are admitted to ICU for illnesses that are “predominantly female”, were also at heightened risk of death when compared with women.

Minority effect
Another interesting and inexplicable finding was the “minority effect”, with evidence that the gender balance of patients in an ICU could be linked to survival rates.

The study found that women admitted to ICUs with relatively few female patients were more likely to die than men, and vice versa.

As it is clearly inexplicable and unclear, the experts believe it could be linked to cognitive bias.

Discrimination against women
A very strange observation made based on the research is that women who suffer major heart attacks face discrimination from hospitals and receive fewer preventative medications and treatments than men, despite being more likely to die.

This they say is part evidence of an unconscious bias against women. To substantiate the argument, the perception that heart attacks happen mostly to men is used. That, “possibly leads to complacency from the public and medical professionals”, the report said.

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