Mortality higher among women post heart attack

A STUDY conducted in Sweden has found that the mortality rate among women in the year after suffering a heart attack is three times higher than that of men.

Scientists from the University of Leeds and the Karolinska Institute analysed the outcomes of 180,368 patients who suffered a heart attack over a 10-year period to December 2013. The data was drawn from Sweden’s online cardiac registry – SWEDEHEART – and the results published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

The researchers found that women who had a heart attack resulting from a blockage in the coronary artery were 34 per cent less likely than men to receive corrective procedures, including bypass surgery and stents. Women were also 24 per cent less likely to be prescribed statins to help prevent a second heart attack, and 16 per cent less likely to be given aspirin to help prevent blood clots.

In women who did receive all of the recommended treatments the gap in excess mortality between the sexes decreased dramatically.

Professor Chris Gale, professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Leeds and a co-author of the study, said: "We need to work harder to shift the perception that heart attacks only affect a certain type of person.

"Typically, when we think of a heart attack patient, we see a middle-aged man who is overweight, has diabetes and smokes. This is not always the case: heart attacks affect the wider spectrum of the population, including women.

"Sweden is a leader in healthcare, with one of the lowest mortality rates from heart attacks, yet we still see this disparity in treatment and outcomes between men and women.

"In all likelihood, the situation for women in the UK may be worse."

British Heart Foundation (BHF) research has shown that women are 50 per cent more likely than men to be initially misdiagnosed and are less likely to get a pre-hospital electrocardiogram (ECG).

Professor Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the BHF (which co-funded the study) said: "Heart attacks are often seen as a male health issue, but more women die from coronary heart disease than breast cancer in the UK. The findings from this research are concerning – women are dying because they are not receiving proven treatments to save lives after a heart attack."