Women receive around half as many heart attack treatments as men - even when diagnosis levels are similar, a study suggests.

A tailored version of an existing blood test recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) improved diagnosis of heart attacks in women by 42 per cent, according to research led by Edinburgh University.

The clinical trial saw a similar proportion of men and women - 21 and 22% respectively - be diagnosed with a heart attack or injury to the heart muscle after going to A&E with chest pains.

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But treatment rates were not equal, with women half as likely to receive standard treatments as men, the British Heart Foundation (BHF)-funded study found.

Some 15% of women had a stent fitted compared to 34% of men; 26% had dual anti-platelet therapy compared to 43% of men; and 16% had statins compared to 26% of men.

And the trial found that improvements in diagnosis did not lead to a decrease in the number of women experiencing another heart attack or dying from cardiovascular disease within a year.

Dr Ken Lee, BHF clinical research fellow and study author at the University of Edinburgh, said: "Diagnosis of a heart attack is only one piece of the puzzle.

"The way test results and patient history are interpreted by healthcare professionals can be subjective, and unconscious biases may influence the diagnosis.

"This may partly explain why, even when rates of diagnosis are increased, women are still at a disadvantage when it comes to the treatments they receive following a heart attack."

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The study focused on 48,282 patients, almost half of whom were women, with suspected acute coronary syndrome across 10 hospitals in Scotland.

It examined the impact of using the highly sensitive troponin blood test to detect heart attacks with different thresholds for men and women.

The number of women with heart attack or heart injury increased by from 3,521 to 4,991 women out of a total of 22,562 women.

The researchers hope use of the tailored test, which is not yet rolled out in all hospitals, will become standard practice.

It follows a recent BHF report which found women were dying needlessly because of a "heart attack gender gap" involving stark inequalities in awareness, diagnosis and treatment of heart attacks.

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Dr Lee added: "By addressing a biological difference between men and women, we've successfully improved the test to detect more women who've had a heart attack. These women would otherwise be misdiagnosed.

"It's now important that this blood test, with its specific measures for men and women, is used to guide treatment and that we address these disparities in the care of men and women with heart attack.

"Women everywhere should benefit from improved heart attack diagnosis."

The study is published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.