Women more likely to die after heart attack: study

ATLANTA Tue Mar 16, 2010 12:44pm EDT

A heart surgeon and his team performs a complex mitral valve reconstruction at Papworth Hospital in Cambridge July 5, 2007. REUTERS/Ben Edwards

A heart surgeon and his team performs a complex mitral valve reconstruction at Papworth Hospital in Cambridge July 5, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Ben Edwards

Related Topics

ATLANTA (Reuters) - When it comes to matters of the heart, women should be treated more like men.

Among patients admitted to the hospital for a heart attack, women were far less likely than men to get angiography in which blood vessels are injected with dye so that blockages are visible on an X-ray, or angioplasty to clear blockages, a study found.

Women were about twice as likely as men to die within a month of a heart attack, the study said.

"This suggests that we could reduce mortality in female patients by using more invasive procedures," said Dr. Francois Schiele, chief cardiologist at the University Hospital of Besancon, France.

Schiele, who presented the research at the American College of Cardiology meeting in Atlanta, said women should be treated with all recommended strategies, including invasive ones.

Some earlier studies have also suggested that women have a higher risk of death after a heart attack than men, but it is unclear why. Biological differences might explain it, researchers said, but there were also substantial differences in the treatment regimens women received.

Researchers analyzed data from a registry that included more than 3,500 patients who were treated for heart attacks between January 2006 and December 2007.

The women, who made up almost one-third of the patients, were nine years older than the men on average and had more health problems.

In most major heart studies, the majority of patients have been men, leaving women an understudied population.

The French study, sponsored by European drugmakers including GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis and Sanofi-Aventis, found women received fewer effective treatments for heart attack. Women were almost twice as likely to die during the initial hospital stay and during the following month.

Dr. Marcelo Di Carli, director of Cardiovascular Imaging at Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston, noted that the risk of death is higher in women with heart disease than in men and the women in this study were older and sicker in the first place.

Carli, who was not involved in this study, said he was not surprised by the findings, but noted that there is a growing awareness that women's heart attack symptoms are different from men's symptoms.

"Just about every major hospital in the United States has a program on women's health. Things are changing in a positive way because there's so much research," he said, adding that there is a recognition that women have different symptoms then men and sometimes no symptoms.

One important difference, he said, is that women tend to have problems in smaller blood vessels, rather than the main coronary arteries.

"This disease looks different in women," Carli added.

(Reporting by Debra Sherman and Bill Berkrot; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Gunna Dickson)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (1)
GodivaMD wrote:
Yet a woman with typical chest pain has to be 20 yrs older than a man to get risk-stratified into a category that would “win” her a corononary angiogram. Could some of the stress tests be wrongly weeding out some women who could actually benefit from the angio?

Mar 16, 2010 5:26pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

Pictures