Heart attack recovery harder for young women
Younger women aren’t prone to heart attacks, but when they do occur, researchers may have determined why they tend to have a more difficult recovery — stress.
A study published in Circulation compared stress levels in men and women 18 to 55 years old with acute myocardial infarction, or heart attack, and linked stress to worse recovery for younger women. The results revealed that younger women experienced significantly higher levels of mental stress than men. They also had a harder time recovering, shown by greater chest pain, worse overall health and poorer quality of life.
“Many times, women take on many different roles in family life, as well as working outside of the home,” says Dr. Beth Tumilty, cardiologist affiliated with the Advocate Heart Institute at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill. “Women may experience more stressors compared to their male counterparts, and may spend so much time focusing on others as caregivers that they ignore their symptoms for longer periods of time.”
Researchers found that compared with men, women had higher rates of diabetes, chronic lung disease, depression and cancer, as well as previous heart conditions. Women also were more likely to experience greater financial strain, and have children or grandchildren living in their household.
“Hopefully in the future we will have new therapies available to aid young females after a myocardial infarction so that we can decrease their mortality,” says Dr. Tumilty. “We need to have programs in place to help with everyday stressors to allow females to cope better, and have social support networks in place.”
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