Women more likely to die in decade after heart attack than men, study finds

Women ages 50 and younger who have a heart attack are more likely to die over the next 11 years than men in the same age category, a study published in the European Heart Journal found.

Researchers at Boston-based Harvard Medical School examined data on 404 female and 1,693 male heart attack patients treated at two Boston hospitals — Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital — between 2000 and 2016.

Women were less likely to undergo invasive treatment procedures during their hospitalization or receive certain medications upon discharge, such as beta-blockers, statins or ACE inhibitors, researchers found.

There was no statistically significant difference between men and women for in-hospital deaths or heart-related deaths over an average follow-up period of 11 years. But women had a 1.6 times higher risk of dying from other causes over those 11 years, even after researchers adjusted for outside factors.  

“While further studies will be required to evaluate the underlying reasons for these differences, clinicians need to evaluate, and if possible treat, all modifiable risk factors that may affect deaths from both cardiovascular and noncardiovascular events,” lead author Ron Blankstein, MD, a preventive cardiologist and professor of medicine at Harvard, said in a news release. “This could lead to improved prevention, ideally before, but in some cases, after a heart attack.”

To view an accompanying editorial to the study, click here.

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