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Women no more likely to die from heart attack than men

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Women and death from heart attack.

Researchers at University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center find female gender does not boost the chances of death from heart attack, compared to men. In studies, women were believed to be at higher risk of heart attack related deaths, but researchers found the reasons were from co-morbidities and age, following a re-investigation.

Women's risk of death from heart attack linked to age, co-morbidities

Instead, the researchers say past studies suggesting women were more likely to die from heart attack than men had not adjusted for age and other health problems.

Elizabeth Jackson, M.D., M.P.H., an assistant professor of internal medicine at the U-M Health System explains, “When we adjusted for factors such as age and co-morbidities like hypertension and diabetes, women had similar mortality rates at the time of the heart attack as men."

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One difference between men and women who have heart attacks is that women seem to have a higher chance of complications from bleeding in the hospital that requires transfusion.

The study, published in the American Heart Journal and conducted over five years, found that women treated for heart attack were generally older and had more health problems than men. The research looked at outcomes among 8,771 patients who had severe heart attack.

The study is a second look at risk of a woman dying from heart attack taken from registry information. “Overall, there have been tremendous improvements in the care of both men and women who suffer a heart attack, but further research on everyday patients, such as those in the registry, is needed to be able to continue improving our level of care,” says Jackson.

Heart disease remains a major contributor to deaths among women. The new study shows female gender does not increase the risk of dying from a heart attack, after researchers adjusted for age and co-morbidities such as diabetes and hypertension.

American Heart Journal, DOI:10.1016/j.ahj.2010.09.030