You’re more likely to have a heart attack if you have an unhealthy diet and are physically inactive. However, there are a few other factors that could raise your risk, especially if you’re a women.
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Researchers from Oxford University recently conducted a study, published in the British Medical Journal, to determine how heart attack risk factors differ among sexes.
To do so, they used the United Kingdom Biobank database to evaluate nearly 500,000 adults, aged 40 to 69, between 2006 and 2010. They examined medical histories and followed them for an average of seven years.
After analyzing the results, they found high blood pressure, smoking and diabetes raised heart attack risk in women more than in men. In fact, hypertension increased a woman’s risk 83 percent more than it did for men, smoking raised it by 55 percent more and diabetes hiked it by 47 percent more.
“Several risk factors were more strongly associated with myocardial infarction [heart attack] in women compared with men,” the authors wrote in the study. “Sex specific associations between risk factors and myocardial infarction declined with age, but, where it occurred, the higher relative risk in women remained.”
While the scientists noted the rate of heart attacks is still three times higher in men than it is in women, they said there should be more awareness efforts about heart disease for women.
“Our findings suggest that clinicians should be vigilant when their female patients are elderly, smoke, have diabetes, or have high blood pressure,” the team said. “These findings also highlight the importance of equitable access to guideline based treatments for diabetes and hypertension, and to weight loss and smoking cessation programmes for women and men in middle and older age.”
The analysts also acknowledged a few limitations. Many of the subjects were white and had higher socioeconomic statuses. For future investigations, they hope to diversify their pool of participants to include people of various races, ages and socioeconomic backgrounds.
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