Women should take a heart attack very seriously, especially if it’s their first. A new study shows that women are more likely to develop heart failure or die within five years of their first severe heart attack than men.
The research backs the findings of a similar study that found that after a heart attack, 47% of the women will die, develop heart failure, or suffer from a stroke within five years, compared to 36% of the men. But this most recent study may offer up some reasons why this is happening.
It’s important to know because heart disease continues to be under-recognized as the leading cause of death in women. Let’s take a look at what the study found and why researchers think women are more likely to die after their first severe heart attack.
In a study published in the journal Circulation, Canadian researchers looked at more than 45,000 women hospitalized after having their first heart attack. The results show that women have a 20% greater risk of developing heart failure or dying within five years.
What’s new about this study is that it focuses on heart failure. Most studies examining the differences between men and women after having a heart attack focus on death, recurrent heart attacks, or revascularization.
The study also found a few clues as to why women may be more likely to develop heart failure or die soon after their first severe heart attack. Researchers say women were generally older at the time of their heart attacks and had more risk factors that could have increased their heart failure risk. But they also were seen less frequently by a cardiovascular specialist, were not as likely to have been prescribed heart medications, and had slightly lower rates of certain surgical procedures.
Researchers say that identifying when and how women may be at higher risk for heart failure after a heart attack can help providers develop more effective approaches for prevention.
One thing women should never do is blow off the potential signs of a heart attack. Other studies suggest that during a heart attack, women are more likely to have atypical symptoms, such as nausea, dizziness and fatigue. In women, not only is "tightness" or discomfort in the chest a warning sign, but nausea and dizziness are common indicators.
If you’ve experienced any of these symptoms, you should talk to your doctor. It’s a good first step to coming up with your own personalized heart health plan.
While you’re there, you can get your blood pressure checked. 1 in 3 adults has high blood pressure and over half don’t know it. High blood pressure in young adults increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular events.
In fact, a recent study found that if your systolic blood pressure is between 130-139, you have a 36% increased risk of heart attack compared to those with normal blood pressure. High diastolic blood pressure between 80-89 elevates your risk by 32%. And if both your systolic and diastolic measurements are high, your risk increases nearly 70%.
But our guide “Knowing Your Blood Pressure Numbers” will help you determine where your blood pressure numbers are supposed to be. It’s just another way North Ohio Heart and Ohio Medical Group is helping you live healthier.