Women more stressed than men after heart attack
Women tend to have a higher mortality rate after heart attacks than men and a new study from Yale University suggests it may be because young women are more stressed out post-attack than men. The findings were published in the journal Circulation.
Researchers looked at 2,397 women and 1,175 men under age 55 who were hospitalized in the U.S., Spain or Australia with a heart attack. The severity of the attacks was the same in both genders. During their hospital stay, the participants answered 14 questions regarding their current stress levels. A follow-up assessment was performed a month later.
At the time of the first set of questions, younger females had higher stress level scores than those who were older or male. The stress scale went from 0 to 56. On average, men had 23.4 points and women had 27 points.
One-third of the women said they experienced major family conflict within the past year, compared to 20 percent of men. Women were also more likely to report personal injury, illness or loss of a family member within the past year. Women also tended to have less money needed for family care. The women in this study reported higher cases of diabetes, lung disease, cancer, kidney problems, depression, and previous heart problems than men.
At the one-month follow-up, women reported worse chest-pain related to physical function, quality of life and overall health.
Following a heart attack, patients are instructed to adopt a healthier lifestyle and sometimes take medications. However, one researcher noted people under great stress may be less likely to comply and could actually be more likely to drink alcohol or smoke to ease their stress levels.
One researcher suggested that heart attack patients should be screened for chronic stress and that doctors should also analyze their mental health, and not just their physical condition.