Streisand: Why Heart Disease Is Treated Like a Boys’ Club

From Alternet:

By Barbra Streisand, Huffington Post

Posted on November 23, 2010, Printed on November 27, 2010

Women have broken through some of the hardest glass ceilings. We’ve had women explore the depths of outer space, a woman run for President of the United States, and we’ve had a woman serving as Speaker of the House, a position that is just two heartbeats away from the Presidency. Many consider politics as one of the last bastions of the boys club and thankfully — although slowly — women are finally making real inroads.

But there is another boys club that until recently many people either didn’t know about or talk about. It came as a big shock to me to discover that gender inequality still prevails in the medical sciences when it comes to research and treatment of some illnesses. I consider myself a well-informed person, but I only became aware of this fact when learning about women and heart disease, and I was stunned.

Heart disease is the number one killer of women in our country, more than all cancers combined. Today, heart disease kills more women than men. When I started to think about this, it was not surprising. More women are taking on the stresses of juggling household demands, of being wife, mother and breadwinner. All of these modern day strains add to higher blood pressure, lack of physical activity, quick and unhealthy food choices, and weight gain — all major contributors to heart disease.

Despite the statistics, for years, most of the medical community has been treating our mothers, wives, daughters, sisters and friends inadequately because they based their treatment protocols on research outcomes done mostly on male patients. Cardiologists treating women certainly intended to provide their patients with quality care, but they could only depend on the research that was available and known to them.

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4 Responses to “Streisand: Why Heart Disease Is Treated Like a Boys’ Club”

  1. Dreki Says:

    This is just part of the larger problem that is the health care system. Way too often, problems that only/primarily effect people with biology not usually associated with males aren’t treated as seriously. There is a problem with birth rape. I’ve seen a lot of people whose menstruation severely effects their life and when they go to a doctor their concerns are dismissed (although there are disorders that can cause this) and told that they need to suck it up. I’ve also seen a few people who are assigned/perceived/identified as female have their health concerns dismissed as being “just stress” without looking into it or coming up with a way to treat it, using that to justify dismissing the problem. As you point out there are a lot of stressors in peoples’ lives now, and stress can cause serious problems, the idea that “it’s just stress” can be used to deny people health care (and I’ve mostly seen it happen to assigned/perceived/identified as female people) is just wrong.

    All of the health care system makes me uncomfortable. It’s just as, or possibly more, steeped in privilege and oppression as everything else. But doctors are allowed control over our bodies to a degree that is horrifying when you consider that they’re allowed to be as bigoted and oppressive as any lay person.

    • Suzan Says:

      There are also elements of mystification regarding medical matters coupled with a failure to teach the basics of human biology.

      I sometimes think the powers that be were scared by the results of 1950s efforts to educate all kids to a certain level, because the level of knowledge that many kids had in the 1960s led to a serious demand for the end of oppressive systems, not just in the US but around the world.

      Elaborate jargon on the part of the experts both guarantees their position as experts goes unchallenged and mystifies the masses. Dazzle with brilliance/baffle with bullshit.

      There is a manipulation of access to both knowledge and to tools/tests that could be either self-administered or administered by nurse practitioners or even trained para-professionals/technicians often seems like more of a way of insuring income flow for Doctors than providing health care for all.

      Then too there are those who mistake superstition and quackery for medicine. Both on the part of the practitioners and the patients.
      See: Pharyngula: for an example of stuff that does more harm than good.

      There is a current controversy with people upset with yoga as physical exercise vs yoga as mystical practice.

      Transsexual and transgender people are working on a version of “Our Bodies, Ourselves” which was revolutionary when first introduced in the 1970s.

      I put up a link to some Journals filled with straight psychobabblers writing about TS/TG people earlier this week. I went there and tried to read it. I decided that I had never seen so much bull shit in a single place. People using pseudo scientific jargon to further bigotry then hiding it behind a firewall of limited access.

      Add to this misogyny and the othering of women. Simone de Beauvoir described this in “The Second Sex” and for all the claims regarding how dated TSS isfew have matched her completeness in describing the problem in the some 60 years since its publication.

  2. Dreki Says:

    The jargon is definitely one thing that bothers me about medicine, because it’s combined with the idea that doctors know our bodies better than we do and are inherently trustworthy. Most people can’t spend however many years and dollars on a medical degree just to be able to understand what their doctors say.

    Transsexual and transgender people are working on a version of “Our Bodies, Ourselves” which was revolutionary when first introduced in the 1970s.

    That would be REALLY awesome if it’s done well. And good even if it isn’t. Who is working on it?

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