The surprising truth about women's hearts

The surprising truth about women's hearts


By Michael Day WHILE women are less likely to suffer heart attacks than men, once a woman suffers her first attack she is 70 per cent more likely to die from it than a man. These surprising new findings highlight the need for medical staff to be more vigilant against heart disease in women. Researchers at the Municipal Institute of Medical Research in Barcelona studied 331 women and 1129 men who had suffered their first heart attack. The researchers report in The Journal of the American Medical Association (vol 280, p 1405) that women were 72 per cent more likely to die within the first 28 days, and 73 per cent more likely to die within the first six months. “We were surprised that women were so much more at risk,” says Jaume Marrugat, who led the Spanish team. Marrugat notes that women were less likely to get clot-busting treatment than men, and that they generally took more time getting to hospital—problems that may reflect the low priority doctors put on heart disease in women. Heart specialist Graham McGregor of St George’s Hospital Medical School in London also notes that women tend to be older than men at their first heart attack because they have some hormonal protection against heart disease until menopause. On average, women in the Spanish study were five years older than the men. “These are important factors to consider but they can’t account for the whole difference,” says Marrugat. “Women have more complications in the first six months and their initial heart attacks may be more severe.” He speculates that narrower coronary vessels in women may be a factor. Nonetheless,
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