Vancouver A Heart and Stroke Foundation study has found that women under age 55 fare worse than their male counterparts following a heart attack and their health status declines more than that of their male counterparts after one month.
The AMI55 study found that women between the ages of 20 and 55 had significantly worse physical limitations, more recurrences of chest pain, and worse quality of life than men one month after a heart attack and, compared to their baseline scores, declined in the areas of physical limitations and recurrences of chest pain. Among men, only physical limitations worsened from baseline to one month.
"While the high prevalence of traditional cardiac risk factors like diabetes, smoking, and high blood pressure contribute, they do not fully explain the poorer outcome in women," says Dr. Karin Humphries, Heart and Stroke Foundation Professor in Women's Cardiovascular Health at UBC. "This is why our study focuses on exploring non-traditional risk factors such as depression, anxiety, and social support."
Dr. Humphries attributes the slower recovery of women in part to prevalent social and cultural standards that typically place women in this age group in the role of primary caregiver.
"These women are likely not getting the support they need to recover from a heart attack," she says. "Women are less likely to attend cardiac rehabilitation than their male counterparts even when they are referred. We need to help women overcome their barriers to this essential part of their recovery."
Explanations for the difference in outcomes, she says, may be that women are presenting to hospital later, are less likely to believe they're having a heart attack, are more likely to put off seeking treatment and often ignore or under-report their symptoms. Additionally, they are less aggressively investigated for heart disease.
She adds that outcomes in younger women could likely be improved by increa
|Contact: Amanda Bates|
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada