Stress linked to worse recovery in women after heart attack

Stress linked to worse recovery in women after heart attack
Credit: Michael Helfenbein

Young and middle-aged women experience more stress than their male counterparts, which could contribute to worse recovery from acute myocardial infarction (AMI), according to new findings by Yale School of Medicine researchers and their colleagues.

The findings appear in the current issue of Circulation.

"Women tend to report greater and more than men, potentially because of their different roles in and work, as compared to men," said first author Xiao Xu, assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences at Yale School of Medicine. "This difference in the level of stress may be an important reason for sex-based differences in recovery after ."

Xu and colleagues used data from the Variation in Recovery: Role of Gender Outcomes on Young AMI Patients (VIRGO) study, which is the largest prospective observational study of young and middle-aged women and men with AMI. VIRGO studied AMI patients 18 to 55 years old from a large, diverse network of 103 hospitals in the United States, 24 in Spain and 3 in Australia from 2008 to 2012.

Xu and the team measured each patient's self-perceived during the initial hospital stay for AMI using 14 questions, which asked participants about the degree to which their life situations during the last month were unpredictable, uncontrollable, and overloaded. One sample question asked, "In the last month, how often have you been upset because of something that happened unexpectedly?" Response to each item was scored as never (0), almost never (1), sometimes (2), fairly often (3), and very often (4). The team measured each patient's recovery based on changes in their angina-specific and overall health status between initial hospitalization for AMI and one month after AMI.

Compared with men, women had significantly higher rates of diabetes, chronic lung disease, chronic renal dysfunction, depression, and cancer, as well as previous stents, congestive heart failure, and stroke. Women were also more likely to have children or grandchildren living in their household, while experiencing greater financial strain.

"This study is distinctive in focusing particularly on young women and going beyond traditional predictors of risk to reveal how the context of these people's lives influences their prognosis," said senior author Harlan M. Krumholz, M.D., principal investigator of the VIRGO study.

Xu added, "Helping patients develop positive attitudes and coping skills for stressful situations may not only improve their psychological well-being, but also help recovery after AMI. Stress management interventions that recognize and address different sources of stress for men and would be beneficial.


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Stress may partly explain worse heart attack recovery in young and middle-aged women

Journal information: Circulation

Provided by Yale University
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Feb 13, 2015
Compared with men, women had significantly higher rates of diabetes, chronic lung disease, chronic renal dysfunction, depression, and cancer, as well as previous stents, congestive heart failure, and stroke. Women were also more likely to have children or grandchildren living in their household, while experiencing greater financial strain.


Did the study check the physicality of the patient's occupation? Not to be stereotypical, but men usually have more physical jobs and do outside chores, etc, so men would be less likely to have fitness related illnesses.

On the issue with children, that is both an individual problem and a societal problem. It is a legal/individual problem because we don't have laws to enforce appropriate child support and alimony. We don't have a consistent way to determine what is fair when the woman is at fault in a divorce either. We don't have a relationship model in school or college or television, because the "PC" mentality means anything goes.

Feb 13, 2015
If you inform men of these sorts of problems, the "good" ones who feel the "call" will face this problem more readily and with a different attitude.

Advances in technology may also be a factor. Men aren't social in the same way women are. women talk about everything, whether or not it's relevant. Give them social media and they have that many more people they feel like they need to talk to and keep up with. Give men social media and they are like, "Hey guys. What's up?"

Women are pressured in other ways too. Robots replace men in the more physical factory jobs, so men take more office jobs over-lapping with women, then women end up taking a less advanced position because nothing is available, or they return to school to become a nurse, etc, if they are able, and those in "return to school" scenarios generally end up being an LPN instead of an RN, same for other fields, end up with the 2 year degree instead of 4 years. and the 2 year degree is a dead end job..

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