Among young heart attack victims, women often have more medical issues, more
chest pain and worse quality of life before the event than men, a new study
The researchers, from the Yale School of Medicine, said young women also tend
to have worse mental health with more physical limitations prior to their heart
The findings could help explain why young women often have worse outcomes
than their male peers after a heart attack, said the researchers, who concluded
that doctors should regularly assess young women's heart attack risk.
"Compared with young men, women under 55 are less likely to have heart
attacks," study author Rachel Dreyer, a research fellow in cardiovascular
medicine at Yale, said in an American Heart Association news release. "But when
they do occur, women are more likely to have medical problems, poorer physical
and mental functioning, more chest pain and a poorer quality of life in the
month leading up to their heart attack."
The study involved nearly 3 000 women and men, aged 18 to 55, who
participated in an international study of heart attack patients. The researchers
questioned the participants to assess their chest pain and quality of life
before their heart attack.
What the study found
The study also revealed that the women were more likely than the men to have
other conditions linked to heart disease, such as diabetes: 40% of women
compared to just 27% of the men. Moreover, 55% of the women were obese, compared
to 48% of the men.
Of the women, 6% had a history of stroke and 6% had heart failure. In
contrast, 3% of men had a history of stroke, and 2% had heart failure.
Meanwhile, 13% of women had renal failure and 49% suffered from depression. The
researchers said only 9% of men had renal failure and just 24% were
"These data suggest that young women were suffering more from their heart
disease than young men prior to their heart attack," Dreyer said.
"We need to develop better methods for recognising and treating young women
with chest pain to optimise their quality of life and potentially even prevent a
heart attack," Dreyer said in the news release.
"General health and disease-specific health-status assessments are valuable
tools for health care providers to measure the burden of disease on patients,"
she said. "These should be standardised into clinical practice, much like
assessments for other traditional heart disease risk factors."
The study findings were scheduled to be presented at the American Heart
Association annual meeting in Baltimore. The data and conclusions of research
presented at medical meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in
a peer-reviewed journal.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about women
and heart disease.