Heart Health

Updated 20 November 2013

Women more likely to die in hospital after heart attack

A study finds that younger Hispanic, black and white women are more likely to die in the hospital after a heart attack than white men.

Younger Hispanic, black and white women are more likely to die in the hospital after a heart attack than white men are, a new study finds.

Researchers examined data from about 207 000 American adults hospitalised for heart attack – including more than 6 500 Hispanic and black women younger than 65 – and found significant racial, gender and age disparities.

Younger Hispanic, black and white women were 1.5, 1.4 and 1.2 times, respectively, more likely to die in a hospital than white men, the investigators found.

The study also found that Hispanic and black women were significantly younger than white women when they were hospitalised after a heart attack. Younger Hispanic women had a higher rate of diabetes (56%) than black women (46%) or white women (36%).

Opening up blocked arteries 

In addition, the findings indicated that white men were more likely than women to undergo procedures to open up blocked arteries (such as so-called balloon angioplasty and stent placement) or coronary artery bypass surgery. These procedures were performed in 73%of white men compared with only 58% of white women, 50% of Hispanic women and just over 47% of black women.

The study was presented at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association in Dallas. The data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

The "findings of striking racial/ethnic, gender and age disparities in heart attack treatment patterns and outcomes" means that more must be done to help prevent heart disease in this population, study author Dr Fatima Rodriguez, an internal medicine resident at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, noted in a heart association news release.

Doctors may not recognise risk factors and symptoms in young women – Hispanic women in particular – with heart disease, according to the researchers. Other factors may include language barriers, lack of access to health care, doctor bias and differences in treatment patterns.

More information

The US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more about heart attack.


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