Women age 55 or younger may fare worse than their male counterparts after having a heart attack, according to new research presented at the American Heart Association's Quality of Care and Outcomes Research Scientific Sessions 2014.
Researchers studied records and interviews of 3,501 people (67 percent women) who had heart attacks in the United States and Spain in 2007-12. One year after their heart attack, women were more likely than men to have:
- Poorer physical functioning, 46 percent vs. 30 percent
- Poorer mental functioning, 47 percent vs. 30 percent
- Lower quality of life, 42 percent vs. 28 percent
"Previous studies show young women have a greater burden of pre-existing risk factors," said Rachel P. Dreyer, Ph.D., the study's first author and a post-doctoral research fellow in cardiovascular medicine at Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn. "These factors have shown to be more strongly associated with adverse outcomes in women than men."
Women's poorer health outcomes may be due to a range of socio-demographic, clinical and biological causes, such as undetected chest pain, problems with access to care and increase in work/life responsibilities impacting their health, she said.
"Our results can be important in developing treatments specifically designed to improve young women's recovery after a heart attack." Dreyer said. "We need to identify women at higher risk as well as think about care after they are discharged."
Co-authors are Kelly M. Strait, M.S.; Judith H. Lichtman, Ph.D.; Nancy P. Lorenze, D.N.Sc.; Gail D'Onofrio, M.D.; Hector Bueno, M.D., Ph.D.; John A. Spertus, M.D., M.P.H.; and Harlan M. Krumholz, M.D. Author disclosures are on the abstract.
Researchers used data from the VIRGO study (Variation in Recovery: Role of Gender on Outcomes of Young AMI Patients), funded by the National, Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.