Women less likely to have heart disease—and die of it—than men

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In a new study, researchers found that women are less likely to have cardiovascular disease, and die of it, than men.

It didn’t matter if women had, or didn’t have, a previous heart attack or stroke. It also didn’t matter where they lived around the world, nor their economic status.

The study tested more than 160,000 people in 21 countries and followed the participants an average of 10 years.

The research was conducted by a team at McMaster University and elsewhere.

There have been concerns that women with CVD are managed less aggressively than men which could lead to women having poorer prognoses.

Some have attributed this to a treatment bias against women.

The team found while prevention strategies were used more often by women, invasive strategies such as percutaneous coronary intervention and coronary artery bypass surgery were used more often for men.

But, overall, outcomes such as death or a new heart attack or stroke in women were lower than in men.

The team found that women with no history of cardiovascular disease (CVD) were more likely to use preventative medicines, control high blood pressure, and to have quit smoking, compared to men.

Fewer women than men have the type of extensive atherosclerosis that requires medical interventions.

Other studies have reported that the sex differences in invasive heart procedures are not seen once we consider the extent and severity of coronary artery disease.

This suggests that the lower rates of coronary interventions in women are appropriate as they have the less extensive disease.

There is, however, substantial concern about the differences in treatment between poorer and richer countries.

This is the first global study to document the risk factors, use of treatment, the incidence of heart attacks and strokes, and mortality in people from the community, rather than just hospital patients.

The lead author of the study is Marjan Walli-Attaei.

The study is published in The Lancet.

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