In a new study, researchers found a steady decline in heart attacks for both men and women enrolled in the health system from 2000 to 2014.
But that rate of decline slowed among women.
The research was conducted by Kaiser Permanente scientists.
Men have roughly double the risk for heart attack hospitalization compared to women in the United States, although several studies have reported increasing rates of hospitalization for heart attacks among women under the age of 55 years.
Heart attacks are the leading cause of death for women.
The team analyzed 45,331 hospitalizations for heart attacks occurring in patients who were ages 35 years and older within Kaiser Permanente in Southern California between 2000 and 2014.
They showed the rate of heart attacks:
Declined overall by nearly 50% between 2000 and 2014
Declined among men during the study period by about 4.7% annually
Declined among women from 2000 to 2008 by about 4.6% annually
Declined among women from 2009 to 2014 by about 2.3% annually
The team says the overall declines in heart attacks reflect a national trend of decreasing heart attack rates and may be due in part to increased use of medications, such as statins, and lifestyle changes.
The study did not determine why the decline in heart attacks was not as great among women.
It points to the need for continued improvement in the awareness, prevention, recognition, and treatment of risk factors for heart disease in women.
The team says most heart attacks and strokes are preventable.
They want to continue the trend of lowering the rate of heart attacks among both men and women by prescribing statins as a preventive medication and continuing to recommend lifestyle changes such as improved diet and exercise.
The lead author of the study is Kristi Reynolds, Ph.D., MPH, the director of Epidemiologic Research.
The study is published in Circulation.
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