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  health > heart > story page AIDSAlternative MedicineCancerDiet & FitnessHeartMenSeniorsWomen

Heart attack more likely to kill women than men, study says

July 26, 1999
Web posted at: 5:48 PM EDT (2148 GMT)

By Hacsi Horvath

Women Heart

(WebMD) -- Younger women have a greater chance of dying of a heart attack than men, researchers have found.

The study, published in this week's The New England Journal of Medicine, has revealed that of men and women younger than 50 years of age who suffered a heart attack, women were twice as likely to die from that heart attack. Three percent of the men in the study and 6 percent of the women died, reported lead author Dr. Viola of the Yale University School of Medicine and collaborating scientists from several major research hospitals.

The difference in the number of deaths was less among older people. For example, 144 out of every 1,000 men aged 70 to 74 died of a heart attack; about 166 out of every 1,000 women in the same age group died, the results showed.

Once women reached the age of 75, their risk of dying of a heart attack was no longer greater than men of the same age, the researchers wrote.

The results of the study were based on information from the National Registry of Myocardial Infarction Two, a database that compiles information on more than 350,000 heart-attack patients.

Accounting for the higher risk, the researchers wrote that other health conditions, such as diabetes or a history of heart disease, may affect how the women fared during and after a heart attack. The high death rates in the younger women could be due to the fact that these women tend not to take heart medications and aspirin to prevent heart attacks.

The researchers also suggest that the high rate of death among women heart-attack patients may be related to the fact that younger women tend to wait longer before going to the hospital for treatment. In addition, once at the hospital, they were less likely to be diagnosed with a heart attack.

Almost 60 million Americans suffer from cardiovascular disease, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). Of that number, 7 million have suffered a heart attack and more than 6 million suffer from chest pain. In 1996, more than 500 million women and 450 million men died of cardiovascular disease.

A heart attack occurs because blood vessels feeding the heart become clogged and therefore unable to deliver oxygen, according to the AHA. The heart reacts by setting off a heart attack. Depending on the severity, part of the heart can be damaged or even die.

Symptoms of a heart attack include an uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing or pain in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes. The pain can go away and come back, according to the AHA. Symptoms also include pain that spreads to the shoulders, neck or arms; chest discomfort with lightheadedness; fainting; sweating; nausea; and shortness of breath.

The AHA recommends that anyone who experiences these symptoms get help immediately to increase their chances of survival.

Copyright 1999 by WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved.

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