BOSTON – Texas neurologist Louise McCullough, MD, PhD, is determined to help women live longer by urging neurologists to focus on the unique risks and needs involved.
Dr. McCullough, chief of neurology at Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, told a plenary audience at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology that both biological and social factors contribute to conditions, such as atrial fibrillation, that are more dangerous in females than in males.
For example, women are less likely than men to be taking blood thinners, she said, possibly because doctors assume they’re frail even when they’ll confirm – if only someone asks – that they haven’t fallen.
At the same time,said, women with atrial fibrillation are twice as likely as their male counterparts to suffer a stroke. “You need to screen older women for a-fib and have a much lower threshold for treatment.”
Isolation can be another contributing factor to the stroke gender gap, she said. “Women are often living alone – they’ve outlived their spouses; they don’t live near their children; they may not have access to rapid care.”
These factors, she said, may even contribute to the smaller presence of women in clinical trials.
Dr. McCullough discussed these issues and more in aat the meeting.