New research found women face a 20% increased risk of developing heart failure or dying within 5 years after their first heart attack vs men.
Previous studies examining sex differences in heart health have often focused on recurrent heart attack or mortality, but the differences in vulnerability to HF between men and women after a heart attack is unclear.
For this reason, researchers analyzed data on 45 064 patients (30.8% women) hospitalized for a first myocardial infarction (MI) between 2002 and 2016 in Alberta, Canada. Researchers focused on 2 types of heart attacks: ST-segment elevation MI (STEMI) and non-STEMI (NSTEMI).
There were 20 327 patients in the STEMI group (26.5% women, 73.5% men) and 24 737 patients in the NSTEMI group (34.3% women, 65.7% men). Patients were followed for an average of 6.2 years.
In addition to the increased risk of developing HF among women, results showed women were older (median age, 72 vs 61 years), had more comorbidities, and had lower rates of diagnostic angiography vs men (74% vs 87%).
“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,” said lead study author Justin A. Ezekowitz, MBBCh, MSc, a cardiologist and co-director of the Canadian VIGOUR Centre, University of Alberta, Canada, in a AHA press release. “Better adherence to reducing cholesterol, controlling high blood pressure, getting more exercise, eating a healthy diet and stopping smoking, combined with recognition of these problems earlier in life would save thousands of lives of women—and men.”
The next step—according to co-author Padma Kaul, PhD—is to further examine if all patients, particularly women, are receiving proper care and where interventions can address oversights.
“Close enough is not good enough,” said Kaul, co-director, Canadian VIGOUR Centre, professor, department of medicine, University of Alberta, in the same press release. “There are gaps across diagnosis, access, quality of care and follow-up for all patients, so we need to be vigilant, pay attention to our own biases and to those most vulnerable to ensure that we have done everything possible in providing the best treatment.”