Women More Likely Than Men to Die After Heart Attack

A recent study revealed that women who suffer a serious heart attack are two to three times more likely to suffer adverse reactions, including death, than men with the same heart attack severity and treatment. Researchers in Portugal found that women hospitalized for a heart attack, also known as myocardial infarction, had a higher risk of short-term and long-term mortality, as well as future cardiovascular events, compared to their male counterparts.

According to TODAY, the findings were presented at Heart Failure 2023, a scientific congress of the European Society of Cardiology.

“Women of all ages who experience a myocardial infarction are at a particularly high risk of a poor prognosis,” said study author Dr. Mariana Martinho of Hospital Garcia de Orta, Almada, Portugal. “These women need regular monitoring after their heart event, with strict control of blood pressure, cholesterol levels and diabetes, and referral to cardiac rehabilitation. Smoking levels are rising in young women, and this should be tackled, along with promoting physical activity and healthy living.”

The research conducted between 2010 and 2015 involved 884 patients who had ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI). STEMI is a type of heart attack that occurs when one of the heart’s main arteries supplying it with blood is completely blocked, making it a more serious type of heart attack with a higher risk of complications, says the Cleveland Clinic.

Both men and women were treated with percutaneous coronary intervention, or PCI ─ the use of stents to open blocked arteries ─ within 48 hours of symptom onset. The adverse events monitored were defined as 30-day all-cause mortality, five-year all-cause mortality, and five-year major cardiovascular events.

After adjusting for health factors that could increase the risk of cardiovascular events such as hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, and smoking, the researchers matched the adverse outcomes between men and women aged 55 and younger, and those aged 55 and older. In both categories, women were more likely to suffer these adverse outcomes than men.

“Women had a two to three times higher likelihood of adverse outcomes than men, even after adjusting for other conditions and despite receiving percutaneous coronary intervention within the same timeframe as men,” said Martinho.

“Postmenopausal women had worst short-term and long-term outcomes after myocardial infarction than men of similar age,” noted Martinho. “Premenopausal women had similar short-term mortality but a poorer prognosis in the long-term compared with their male counterparts. While our study did not examine the reasons for these differences, atypical symptoms of myocardial infarction in women and genetic predisposition may play a role. We did not find any differences in the use of medications to lower blood pressure or lipid levels between men and women.”

Martinho said that her findings are “another reminder of the need for greater awareness of the risks of heart disease in women. More research is required to understand why there is a gender disparity in prognosis after myocardial inflation so that steps can be taken to close the gap in outcomes.”

Experts agree.

“As a cardiologist, I have devoted much of my career to being an advocate for women’s heart health,” Dr. Kevin Campbell, a noted cardiologist from North Carolina and author of “Women and Cardiovascular Disease: Addressing Disparities in Care tells Newsmax.” “While we have made great strides towards more equitable care in the last decade, women with heart disease remain under-treated and under-served.

“While more women than men die every year from heart disease, many still think heart disease is only a disease of men. We must do more to educate patients, families, physicians, and women.”

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