How age influences gender-related outcomes after heart attack

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Age is an important factor in who experiences a heart attack, but there are significant differences between men and women.

Researchers from the Mayo Clinic wanted to see if age was a key factor in sex-related differences in patients with a heart attack. 

They discovered that gender and age play a large part in who experiences a heart attack, the methods used to treat these heart attacks, and the eventual post hospital outcomes of the people who experience heart attacks.

The researchers analysed more than 6.7 million hospitalisation records for heart attacks, categorised the information by sex and divided the patients into four age categories: under 45, 45-64, 65-84 and over 84.

Study author Dr Mohamad Adnan Alkhouli explained that women had fewer acute heart attacks than men across all age groups, however, because there are more women than men over the age of 84, more women had heart attacks in that age group.

Women also had distinctive differences in their risk profile for heart disease, compared to men.

According to the study, women were more likely to have hypertension, diabetes, anaemia, atrial fibrillation, chronic lung disease and previous stroke. However, women were less likely than men to have had a previous heart attack.

The study also discovered significant differences between how heart attacks were managed between the sexes once they were in hospital.

Women of any age group were less likely than men to undergo a coronary angiography (imaging of the heart’s blood vessels), angioplasty to open clogged arteries with a balloon catheter, bypass surgery or receive mechanical circulatory support.

The data also showed that worse hospital outcomes among women were confined to those in the younger age groups, with women under the age of 65 more likely than men to die at hospital because of their heart attack.

Younger women were also more likely to have vascular complications and major bleeds.

“These data suggest that younger women are particularly at higher risk of major complications after a heart attack and, therefore, should be the focus of further research to identify strategies to mitigate this increased risk,” explained Dr Alkhouli.

Are you surprised that women often don’t receive the same treatment for a heart attack as men? Does the fact that younger women have worse outcomes after a heart attack require more attention? Have you had a heart attack? What treatment did you receive?

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