Women more likely to die after heart attack than men

Credit: Fa Barboza / Unsplash

According to a study presented at the Heart Failure 2023 conference by the European Society of Cardiology (ESC), women are more than twice as likely as men to die after a heart attack.

The High Risk for Women

Dr. Mariana Martinho, a doctor at Hospital Garcia de Orta in Portugal and the author of the study, warns that women of all ages who suffer a heart attack are at a high risk of a poor outcome.

“These women need close monitoring after their heart event,” she stated.

This includes controlling blood pressure and cholesterol levels, managing diabetes, and referring them to cardiac rehabilitation.

Previous Studies and Their Findings

Past research has shown that women suffering from a specific type of heart attack, known as ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), have a worse outlook during their hospital stay compared to men.

This discrepancy may be due to women’s older age, the presence of other health conditions, and less frequent use of stents to unblock arteries.

How This Study Was Conducted

The new study looked at short- and long-term results after STEMI in both women and men.

The team examined whether there were any sex differences among both premenopausal (under 55 years old) and postmenopausal (over 55) women.

Researchers looked at records of patients who had been admitted with STEMI and treated within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms between 2010 and 2015.

They defined adverse outcomes as death from any cause within 30 days and five years, and major adverse cardiovascular events (reinfarction, hospitalization for heart failure, and ischemic stroke) within five years.

Study Results and Implications

The research included 884 patients, 27% of whom were women. Women were older than men on average and had higher rates of high blood pressure, diabetes, and prior stroke.

Men, on the other hand, were more likely to be smokers and have coronary artery disease.

The findings revealed that women had a two to three times higher chance of adverse outcomes than men in both the short- and long-term, even after accounting for other health conditions.

This was despite receiving the same time treatment as men.

Further analysis compared men and women of similar ages, both below and over 55 years, with matching risk factors for heart disease.

This showed that postmenopausal women had worse outcomes after a heart attack than men of a similar age, while premenopausal women had similar short-term mortality but a poorer long-term prognosis compared to their male counterparts.

Conclusion and Next Steps

Dr. Martinho says that atypical symptoms of a heart attack in women and genetic factors could explain the differences in outcomes.

However, more research is needed to fully understand why there is a gender disparity in prognosis after a heart attack.

“The findings are a reminder of the need for greater awareness of heart disease risks in women,” she concluded.

If you care about heart attacks, please read studies that drinking up to three cups of coffee a day may protect your heart, and she retired from playing football at 41, and had a heart attack at 43.

For more information about heart health, please see recent studies about how vitamin K helps protect the heart, reduce blood clots and death risk, and results showing that Omega-3 fats may lower risk of irregular heart rhythm.

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