Men between the ages of 18 and 55 suffering from heart attacks and angina received faster care at hospitals than woman in the same age bracket, a new Canadian study has found.

The study also concludes that both men and women who reported more stereotypical feminine personality traits received slower care.

The study, which was conducted by a group of researchers across Canada and released on Monday, surveyed 1,123 patients from 24 health centres in the country, as well as one in the United States and one in Switzerland. Of the participants, 362 were women and 761 were men.

Within 24 hours of admission to hospital, patients were surveyed about their gender-related roles, including traditional masculine and feminine personality traits, household responsibilities, education and health status.

The study found that men received faster access to electrocardiograms (ECGs) -- a procedure that tests the heart’s function. The median time it took for a man to receive an ECG after arriving at the hospital is 15 minutes, while the median time was 21 minutes for women. Men also received faster access to fibrinolysis therapy upon arrival -- a process in which medication is administered to prevent blood clots. The median needle time was 28 minutes for men, while it was 36 minutes for women.

The study said that anxiety in patients is among the clinical factors that led to a delayed procedure.

And because women who took part in the study reported higher levels of anxiety and depression, the study suggests this is a factor in their slower access times, adding that anxiety did not affect men’s wait times.

"Anxiety was associated with failure to meet the 10-minute benchmark for ECG in women but not in men," writes Dr. Louise Pilote, a clinician-researcher at the Research Institute of McGill University Health Centre, and one of the study’s co-authors.

The authors said that this, coupled with fact that acute coronary syndrome is lower among young women than among young men, could lead to healthcare workers dismissing a cardiac event among young women who have anxiety, resulting in a longer door-to-ECG time.

The authors also found a relationship between access to care and gender stereotypes.

Feminine traits of personality, for example, were associated with a lower likelihood to receive a timely primary percutaneous intervention, formerly known as angioplasty with stent. This procedure uses a thin tube to place a stent inside a patient’s body that opens up the blood vessels in the heart that have been removed by a buildup of plaque.

In contrast, participants who reported masculine traits had an increased chance of receiving a timely fibrinolysis procedure.

Moreover, both men and women who reported higher levels of feminine personality traits, and patients who reported being the person responsible for housework, were also less likely to undergo invasive procedures.

The authors of the study concluded that emergency departments might need to begin targeting groups with traditionally slower access times to provide for “more effective initial management of acute coronary syndrome.”