Scientists from Yale found which risk factors are more likely to trigger a heart attack for men and women 55 years and younger.
They discovered big sex differences in risk factors linked to heart attack and in the strength of associations among young adults, suggesting the need for a sex-specific preventive strategy.
They found high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, and poverty had stronger associations with a heart attack in women compared with men.
The research is published in JAMA Network Open and was conducted by Yuan Liu et al.
In the study, the team used data from 2,264 heart attack patients and 2,264 healthy people.
They found that young men and women often have different risk factors.
Seven risk factors—including diabetes, depression, hypertension or high blood pressure, current smoking, family history of attack, low household income, and high cholesterol — were linked to a greater risk of a heart attack in women.
The highest association was diabetes, followed by current smoking, depression, hypertension, low household income, and family history of a heart attack.
Among men, current smoking and family history of heart attack were the leading risk factors.
Analysis of population attributable risk was used to measure the impact of different risk factors at the population level.
The study found that seven risk factors, many potentially modifiable, collectively accounted for a majority of the total risk of AMI in young women (83.9%) and young men (85.1%).
Some of these factors — including hypertension, diabetes, depression, and poverty — have a larger impact on young women than they do on young men.
The team says raising awareness among physicians and young patients is the first step.
Health care providers also need to identify effective strategies to improve the optimal delivery of evidence-based guidelines on preventing heart attacks.
Accounting for heart attack subtypes may also be effective.
The researchers found that many traditional risk factors including hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol, are more prevalent in type-1 heart attack, whereas different heart attack subtypes — including type-2 AMI (a subtype associated with higher mortality) — are less common.
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