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Severe Heart Attack No More Deadly to Women Than Men

THURSDAY, Feb. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Gender does not appear to have any impact on the risk of dying following a severe heart attack, new research indicates.

The study authors observed that female heart attack patients who undergo in-hospital procedures such an angioplasty are, in fact, more likely to subsequently die than male patients.

However, they suggest that the additional risk is not a function of gender, but rather of the fact that women are generally older than their male counterparts and are burdened with more complicating health issues at the time of treatment.

"When we adjusted for factors such as age and comorbidities like hypertension and diabetes, women had similar mortality rates at the time of the heart attack as men," lead author Dr. Elizabeth Jackson, an assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center, said in a news release.

Jackson and her colleagues reported their findings in the current issue of the American Heart Journal.

The authors noted that women make up about a third of patients who undergo procedures necessary to unclog arteries involved in the onset of heart attacks. And they point out that, according to the American Heart Association, heart disease is responsible for nearly double the amount of deaths among American women than all cancers combined, including breast cancer.

To explore death rates among such patients, the team focused on about 8,800 patients undergoing treatment for ST-elevation myocardial infarction, or STEMI, a severe heart attack.

While gender was not implicated in a higher risk of death among treated women, the authors found that female patients do face a higher risk of experiencing the kind of post-treatment bleeding that prompts vascular complications or results in the need for a transfusion.

More information

For more on heart disease and gender, visit the Women's Heart Foundation.

-- Alan Mozes

SOURCE: American Heart Journal, news release, Feb. 21, 2011

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