(Vienna, 12th December 2011) – It is well known that women have a higher life expectancy than men. However, the “stronger” gender ages with fewer illnesses, disabilities and other functional complaints: Increasing stress and changed (bad) lifestyle choices nowadays cause in women more cardiovascular diseases and more mental illnesses like depressions. These facts do clearly speak for a gender specific healthcare provision as stated on Monday’s press conference by gender medicine experts Karin Gutiérrez-Lobos and Alexandra Kautzky-Willer of MedUni Vienna.
Since 2003 the life expectancy of women has increased from 81.5 to 83.2 years. The life expectancy of men is 77.7 years at present. “Women may live longer, but also live longer with health complaints. Men grow older healthier“, says Karin Gutiérrez-Lobos, Vice-Rector of MedUni at a press conference of the healthcare provider VAMED, who established “La Pura“, the first Women’s Health Centre in Gars am Kamp in Austria. 22.3 percent of women are growing old with illnesses and health complaints, however, only about 18 percent of men, shown by latest data in Statistik Austria.
More than “Bikini Medicine“
These figures clearly speak for a gender specific healthcare provision, says Gutiérrez-Lobos. “For a long time we only had the so-called bikini medicine, meaning everything hidden by the bikini was monitored women specific, for example breast cancer and anything concerning the sexual organs. “ Additionally psychosocial factors were not given enough attention: “For example, stress has a totally different impact on women than on men and therefore needs to be treated differently.”
Kautzky-Willer, the first female professor for Gender Medicine in Austria, emphasised that stress in women is one of the key-triggers for cardiovascular and psychic illnesses like depression. “Contrary to widespread opinion the survival chances of women after a heart attack are much lower than with men.“ We therefore still have a lot of potential in preventative healthcare and general healthcare for women, as shown on the example of the “La Pura“ health centre and the medical consultancy provided by MedUni.
Demand for more gender specific information
That there is a demand for gender specific medicine and treatment in the general population showed a survey of 500 Austrian women on behalf of VAMED, which was presented on Monday: 36 percent of women stated to have had the feeling to have been misdiagnosed or to have been treated wrongly or insufficiently by their GPs, because they were “not taken seriously”. Also about a quarter of all men surveyed confirmed this opinion.
About 50 percent of women surveyed declared in a telephone survey carried out by the market research institute GfK that they did not receive sufficient information about the varying impact of medicines on women and men. “This is a problem not only with women. The information insert does not make a difference between men, women or children taking the respective medicine. This should be given much more attention”, mentioned Gutiérrez-Lobos critically.