Young women fare worse than young men after heart attack

Young women fare worse than young men after heart attack
Heart illustration with artery close up. Credit: American Heart Association

Women age 55 or younger may fare worse than their male counterparts after having a heart attack, according to new research presented at the American Heart Association's Quality of Care and Outcomes Research Scientific Sessions 2014.

Researchers studied records and interviews of 3,501 people (67 percent women) who had heart attacks in the United States and Spain in 2008-12. One year after their heart attack, women were more likely than men to have:

  • Poorer physical functioning
  • Poorer mental functioning
  • Lower quality of life
  • More chest pain
  • Worse physical limitations

"Previous studies show have a greater burden of pre-existing risk factors," said Rachel P. Dreyer, Ph.D., the study's first author and a post-doctoral research associate in cardiovascular medicine at Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn. "These factors have shown to be more strongly associated with in women than men."

Women's poorer health outcomes may be due to a range of socio-demographic, clinical and biological causes, such as undetected chest pain, problems with access to care and increase in work/life responsibilities impacting their health, she said.

"Our results can be important in developing treatments specifically designed to improve young women's recovery after a ." Dreyer said. "We need to identify women at higher risk as well as think about care after they are discharged."

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