Study: Women Receive Alarmingly Unequal Heart Attack Care Compared to Men

Here’s why more younger women are having heart attacks, study says

Nearly 800,000 Americans have a heart attack each year, and younger women account for more than 30 percent of them, according to a new report. 

» RELATED: Study: Women receive worse care than men for heart attacks

Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill recently conducted a study, published in the Circulation journal, to explore incidents of cardiac arrest among younger adults. 

To do so, they examined the medical records of nearly 30,000 younger and older people aged 35 to 74 who were hospitalized for a heart attack between 1995 and 2014. Younger patients were considered to be aged 35 to 54.

After analyzing the results, they found nearly a third of patients hospitalized for a heart attack were young, and many of them were women.

From 1995-1999, 21 percent of hospitalized heart attack patients were young women. However, that number increased to 31 percent between 2010-2014.

Rates for young men hospitalized for heart attacks climbed from 30 to 33 percent between 1999 and 2014.

The scientists also noted younger women who had heart attacks were more likely than men of the same age to have a history of high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease and stroke, which they said could be the reason for the uptick.

“Women now, compared to younger women generations before them, are less healthy,” co-author Melissa Caughey told Time. “It’s probably reflective of poorer health in general.”

The researchers found that it was harder to recognize heart attack symptoms in men than in women. While women are more likely to experience back, shoulder or stomach pain, men typically have chest and left arm pain.

A team of researchers from Triemli Hospital in Switzerland published a study in December 2018 on the topic. They found that women likely wait longer to be treated for a heart attack, because their symptoms are harder to recognize.

The analysts of the latest study said heart issues are still considered to be a “man’s disease” and doctors should be exploring various treatment options for women.

“To understand further the distinct cardiovascular risk profile and to define treatment pathways in women, clinical trials could be designed specifically for women,” the authors concluded. “Guidelines focused on preventing cardiovascular diseases in women should continue to be updated and implemented in practice, to assist clinicians in clinical decision-making.”

» RELATED: Women having a heart attack wait longer to seek help than men; here's why 

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