FYI Daily

Heart Attack Toll Greater for Women

Last updated: Nov 01, 2011

Love is in the Air

For as vividly as the midlife-male heart attack is etched in our cultural consciousness, it's women who may have the rougher road with heart problems, according to a Wall Street Journal roundup of the latest on the risks of heart disease for women. Although men have a 35 percent higher lifetime risk of heart disease, women who do have heart disease are worse off.

You might have heard this data before, but it's chilling in summary:

  • Women are more likely to die from heart attack.
  • Women get worse care post-heart attack, partly because they tend to be older and are less eligible for medication that prevents recurrence.
  • Women smokers who have a heart attack are twice as likely as men to suffer a complication, like blocked artery, within six months.
  • Women mistakenly think heart disease is solely a post-menopausal issue (and ignore warning signs); it's not.

Reasons for these disparities may include hormones, where fat gets deposited, even artery size. Smoking is especially problematic for women, new studies show, because of their smaller arteries -- which nicotine constricts further.