Women twice likely to be hospitalised post heart attack than men: Study

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New York, May 3 (IANS) Women aged 55 years and younger have nearly double the risk of being hospitalised in the year immediately after a heart attack compared to men of similar age, according to a study.

The study of 2,979 patients — 2,007 women and 972 men — at 103 US hospitals showed that nearly 30 per cent of patients were hospitalised again in the year after first leaving the hospital following a heart attack.

Most of those re-visits peaked within the first month of a patient’s discharge, then slowly declined in subsequent months. The researchers found that women had nearly twice the risk (1.65 times higher risk) of hospitalisation than men.

For men and women, coronary-related complications — those such as heart attacks and angina that are related to blood vessel blockage — were the leading cause of re-hospitalisation. Yet, the rate of coronary-related complications for women was nearly 1.5 times higher than that of men — driven in large part by risk factors such as obesity and diabetes.

Higher rates of risk factors such as obesity, heart failure, and depression among women most likely contributed to the disparity, revealed the study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

“We have shown for the first time that rehospitalisations following heart attacks in women aged 55 and younger are accompanied by certain non-cardiac factors, such as depression and low-income, that appear more common in women than men and are associated with more adverse outcomes,” said corresponding author Harlan M. Krumholz, a cardiologist and professor of medicine at the Yale School of Medicine, in Connecticut, US.

“The study reveals a need for paying greater attention to these non-cardiac risk factors in younger women in order to help design better clinical interventions and improve outcomes after discharge for a heart attack,” Krumholz added.

The re-hospitalisations were also caused by events not related to heart disease or stroke but due to non-cardiac reasons such as digestive problems, depression, bleeding, and pneumonia.

The reasons behind these higher non-cardiac rates are unclear, but the researchers found a higher percentage of women than men tended to identify as low income (48 per cent vs 31 per cent) and had a higher history of depression (49 per cent vs 24 per cent). While low income is not a medical measure, it is often associated with poor health status due to limited access to healthcare.

The risk for depression is known to increase following a heart attack and may be a risk factor in higher hospitalisation rates due in part to undertreatment of the condition in women. However, further studies will be needed to further explore how these factors affect disparate hospitalisations following a heart attack.



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