There’s so much that happens to women in their 40s and 50s. Kids start to graduate from high school, decisions about career choices can reemerge and – oh, yeah – there’s the menopausal transition. However, there’s one other looming threat that can have a major impact on your entire life – a heart attack.
Researchers out of the Yale School of Medicine have found that women who are age 55 and younger who have a heart attack often fare worse in its aftermath then men. This study involved 3,501 people who had heart attacks in the United States and Spain between 2008 and 2012. Of these, 67 percent were women. The researchers analyzed the participants’ medical records and health status through patient interviews at the time of hospitalization and again one year later. The researchers then rated patients depending on this analysis.
Their analysis found that the median age of a having heart attack was 48. Women who were part of the study were more likely to have diabetes (39 percent, as compared to 27 percent of men), depression (48 percent, as compared to 24 percent of women) and be obese (51 percent, as compared to 45 percent of men). Women also were more likely to have a stroke (5 percent, as compared to 2 percent of men), heart failure (5 percent, as compared to two percent of men) and lung disease (13 percent as compared to 5 percent of men).
Additionally, women were found to be more likely to have poor outcomes than men. Other factors that were found to be independent predictors of having a “poor” outcome included smoking within 30 days of the heart attack and having received prior treatment for a heart attack, coronary angioplasty or coronary artery bypass graft surgery.
The researchers found that one year after the heart attack, women were more likely than men to experience lower quality of life, more chest pain, poor physical and mental functioning, and worse physical limitations.
“Our results can be important in developing treatments specifically designed to improve young women’s recovery after a heart attack,” said Dr. Rachel P. Dryer, the study’s lead author and a post-doctoral research associate in cardiovascular medicine at Yale. “We need to identify women at higher risk as well as think about care after they are discharged.”
This study also serves as a wake-up call to women who are in early middle-age to take preventative measures. So what can you do to lower your risk of a heart attack during this time of life?
First of all, please realize that your risk of having a heart attack in middle age may be increased by events that you experience during pregnancy. The effects of these events -- which include preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and high blood pressure – can linger for many years after you’ve given birth. Therefore, if you have had any of these issues, you need to talk to your doctor and take preventative measures.
Prevention measures that you can take include dealing with high blood pressure and cholesterol, treating diabetes, losing weight if you’re obese and stopping smoking. In addition, you’re encouraged to exercise regularly, consume fewer calories, eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, and sleep more.
Embrace these lifestyle choices sooner rather than later is really important. In fact, this summer’s a great time to start these measures. Take a daily walk outside so you can enjoy nature. Visit the farmer’s market or farm stand to pick up fresh produce. Starting these habits now can help you maintain your heart health – and can improve the quality of your life in the future!
Primary Sources for This Sharepost:
American Heart Association. (2014). Study shows women do worse than men after heart attack.
Dreyer, R. P., et al. (2014). Abstract 110: Long-term health status outcomes in young women with acute myocardial infarction: Results from the VIRGO Study. Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes. The American Heart Association.
Neporent, L. (2013). 4 facts every woman needs to know about heart disease. ABC News.
Published On: June 04, 2014