NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Why More Women Than Men Die From Heart Disease

January 14, 2002

Medical studies have repeatedly shown that women fare much worse after a heart attack than men. According to researchers, over the last 20 years, heart disease has caused more deaths among women than among men. Furthermore, although in recent years heart disease deaths have steadily declined in American men, deaths in women have actually increased.

In a recent study, researchers from the German Heart Center Munich looked at nearly 2,000 men and women after they had a heart attack to analyze why women die more often than men.

  • The men and the women received essentially the same medicines and treatment after heart attack -- about 90 percent received a procedure called "angioplasty" where a tiny balloon is inflated inside the artery and a metal cage called a "stent" is inserted to keep the artery open.
  • However, they found that the women differed from the men in two important respects: 1) age -- the average age of the women who had heart attacks was 71 compared with age 60 for men; and 2) other chronic illnesses -- the women were more likely to have diabetes or high blood pressure.
  • After adjusting for the women's older age, researchers found they were actually 35 percent less likely than the men to die from their heart giving out after a heart attack.

Women were just as likely to be alive a year after their heart attack as were the men, with approximately 13 percent of both groups dying during the year following their heart attack.

Thus women benefit from treatment just as much as men.

Source: Michael W. Smith, "Women Deserve Equal Heart Attack Care," Medscape News, January 9, 2002.

 

Browse more articles on Health Issues