The Gender Perspective in Primary School: ‘Generates Underdiagnosis’

Manuel Anxo Blanco, Milagros Gonzalez Bejar, Lourdes Martinez-Berganza Asensio and Jose Polo Garcia.

Traditionally, medicine has not distinguished between the sexes when dealing with symptoms or pathologies. An absence that caused errors in the extrapolation of research results in applying treatment and identifying symptoms among females, as shown by the Spanish Society of Primary Care Physicians (Semergen) at its 44th National Congress through a study of Complex care for women according to their pathology and called “HERA: One Woman, Many Women”. A “clinical” differentiation that is still a “pending task” for implementation in family medicine physician consultations.

“We want to train the family doctor in the complex approach to women.”

“It should be noted that in the various common pathologies in men and women each gender has different characteristics. there could be different clinic or different response to treatment“, asserted Lourdes Martínez-Berganza Asensio, Second Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Spanish Society of Primary Care Physicians (Semergen) during the celebration of the “Gender Perspective in Primary Care Consultation” table.

A presentation shared with Milagros González Béjar, member of the Semergen Women’s Care Working Group, who recalls that in research women are underrepresented: “Most have more males than females and therefore the results cannot be extrapolated.”

“This is a problem from many years ago that arose to protect women, especially of childbearing age, and because of hormonal cycles. Only men or very few women were included, in fact in many studies there was no difference. However, it was seen that many diseases manifest in different ways and it has to be approached from a gender perspective,” explains Asensio.

Lourdes Martinez-Berganza Asensio, Second Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Spanish Society of Primary Care Physicians (Semergen).

In search of greater medical awareness

Incorporating a gender perspective into medical consultations is something that Semergen’s third vice president says family doctors are taking into account more and more, but she believes that there is still “time and reflection” to be implanted among all doctors. “We want to draw attention to the different characteristics of women in the most common diseases,” says Asensio.

In this sense, Bejar is clear that family doctors need to be more aware. “When it is investigated, there should be 50 percent of women and men to make the data relevant. At the moment, it is a bit tendentious and this perspective is missing”, claims the doctor.

Milagros González Béjar, member of the Semergen Women’s Care Working Group.

What diseases are more common in women?

The Hera study also showed that in many cases it is thought that there are diseases associated primarily with men, but this is actually not the case. “IN cardiovascular diseases everyone thinks they are more common in men and it turns out they are leading cause of death in women. A woman has chest pains and doesn’t run to the doctor thinking it’s a heart attack, but the man does. These are the things that we doctors have to change”, claims Asensio.

The result of the research, according to Beyar, has established what diseases are more common among women: “In order of importance are: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, osteoarthritis, lumbar and cervical pain, allergies, varicose veins, diabetes, migraines, chronic anxiety and depression.”

In addition, the doctor reminds that there are also underestimated pathologies. “For example, when a woman has an asthma attack, it’s not thought to be that, but rather an anxiety attack. It should also be noted that the symptoms are sometimes different, one of these cases is in COPD. This leads to underdiagnosis of pathologies due to gender difference. For example, heart attacks are more serious in women or osteoarthritis occurs in four women for every man,” Bejar concludes.

Speakers at the “Gender Perspective in Primary Care Consultation” panel.

Although it may contain statements, data or notes from health institutions or professionals, the information contained in Medical Writing is edited and prepared by journalists. We recommend that the reader consult a health professional for all health-related questions.

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