Over 2.7 million women in the United States have suffered from a heart attack . Yet, compared to men, heart attacks remain underdiagnosed, understudied, and undertreated in women . A recent study published in the International Journal of Cardiology examined the medical records of 667 patients who were diagnosed with a heart attack . The authors found that women were 1.5 times more likely to be readmitted to the hospital within the first 30 days of a heart attack. Interestingly, women were also more likely to be readmitted for a secondary heart attack or subsequent heart failure compared to men. These findings are consistent with larger population studies [4,5] and in younger patient groups .
The authors suggest that several factors may influence the higher rate of readmission. First, women in this study were older and more likely to have co-morbidities such as chronic kidney disease or diabetes, which may inherently increase the risk of future heart failure. In addition, sociological factors such as quality of life might contribute to readmission. Women are more likely to suffer from depression following a heart attack and, in turn, depression has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. However, the authors note that compared to other reports which suggest women may not receive timely or guideline-specific treatment for heart attacks [2,7], their study did not identify any differences in medical treatment between men and women. Together, this may indicate that women may need additional health management and monitoring to prevent readmission following a heart attack.
For more information on women and heart disease, consider the following resources:
Northwestern Medicine Program for Women’s Cardiovascular Health
American Heart Association: Go Red for Women
1. Mozaffarian et al., Circulation. 2015; 131(4):e29-e322.
2. Mehta et al., Circulation. 2016;133:916-947.
3. Lundbäck et al., Int J Cardiol. 2017; E-pub ahead of print.
4. Chaudhry et al., J Am Heart Assoc. 2014; 3(5): e001197.
5. Dreyer et al., Circulation. 2017 Feb 7;135(6):521-531.
6. Dreyer et al., Circulation. 2015 Jul 21;132(3):158-66.
7. Choi et al., Am J Emerg Med. 2016;34(10):1939-1943.