Studies of potential gender differences in stroke care and outcomes have yielded inconsistent findings. The Project for an Ontario Women's Health Evidence-based Report study measured established stroke care indicators in a large, representative sample of women and men with stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) admitted to acute care institutions in the province of Ontario, Canada.
The Registry of the Canadian Stroke Network performs a biennial audit on a random sample of 20% of patients with stroke or TIA seen at more than 150 acute care institutions across Ontario. We used data from the 2004/05 audit to compare stroke care by gender, with stratification by age and neighborhood income.
The sample consisted of 4,046 patients (51% women). There were no significant gender differences in the use of thrombolysis, neuroimaging, carotid imaging, dysphagia screening, antithrombotic therapy, or neurology and other consultations. Women with ischemic stroke or TIA were less likely than men to be prescribed statins or undergo carotid imaging and endarterectomy within 6 months of stroke; women were more likely than men to receive antihypertensives. There were no significant gender differences in readmission or mortality rates after stroke.
In this population-based study, we found little evidence of gender differences in stroke care or outcomes other than lipid-lowering therapy, carotid imaging, and endarterectomy. Further study is needed to assess the contribution of the provincial stroke strategy in eliminating gender differences in management of acute stroke and to better understand and target remaining gender differences in management.