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Women’s heart attacks more strongly connected to different risk factors than men’s
- By Maureen Salamon, Executive Editor, Harvard Women's Health Watch
Research we’re watching
Women 55 and younger have different chief risk factors for heart attack — including high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, and low household income — than men in the same age group, a new study suggests.
The study, published online May 3, 2022, by JAMA Network Open, analyzed data on 2,264 heart attack patients 55 and younger, comparing them with an equal number of adults matched for age, sex, and race who hadn’t experienced a heart attack.
Researchers found that seven risk factors collectively accounted for most of the heart attack risk in both the women and men studied. These factors were diabetes, depression, high blood pressure, current smoking, family history of heart attack, low household income, and high cholesterol. But in men, the leading heart attack risk factors were current smoking and family history; for women, those two risk factors both ranked lower than diabetes. Depression, high blood pressure, and low household income also appeared more strongly associated with heart attacks in these women than family history of heart attack.
The investigators said their findings suggest the need for sex-specific strategies to prevent heart attacks in younger women and men.
Image: © AsiaVision/Getty Images
About the Author
Maureen Salamon, Executive Editor, Harvard Women's Health Watch
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Midlife can be a woman’s halftime celebration. Not only can it be an opportunity to reflect on and rejoice in the life you’ve lived, but it is also a good time to plan your strategy for the future. A Guide to Women's Health: Fifty and forward will help you determine the conditions for which you are at greatest risk and do your best to avoid them. It will also help you to better manage chronic conditions that may erode your quality of life, and to deal with physical changes that are more bothersome than serious. It is designed to give you the information to make the choices today that will ensure you the best health possible tomorrow.
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