Risk of hospitalization after heart attack higher for younger women: Study

A recent study found women 55 and younger have nearly double the risk of rehospitalization in the year after a heart attack compared to men the same age.

The study, published in Journal of the American College of Cardiology, included 2,979 patients at 103 hospitals. Of the patients, 2,007 were women and 972 were men. An analysis showed nearly 30 percent of patients were rehospitalized in the year after leaving the hospital following a heart attack. Most readmissions were within the first month of discharge, and women had a 1.65 times higher risk of rehospitalization than men.

"We have shown for the first time that rehospitalizations following heart attacks in women aged 55 and younger are accompanied by certain non-cardiac factors, such as depression and low-income, that appear more common in women than men and are associated with more adverse outcomes," author Harlan Krumholz, MD, a cardiologist and professor of medicine at the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn., said in a May 2 National Institutes of Health news release. "The study reveals a need for paying greater attention to these non-cardiac risk factors in younger women in order to help design better clinical interventions and improve outcomes after discharge for a heart attack."

Here are four other study findings:

  1. Coronary-related complications were the leading cause of rehospitalization in both genders, yet the rate of complications was nearly 1.5 times higher in women. This could be due to risk factors such as obesity and diabetes.

  2. Non-cardiac rehospitalizations were 2.1 times higher for women than men. These hospitalizations were caused by events such as digestive problems, depression, bleeding and pneumonia.

  3. Of the patients, 48 percent of women were identified as low income compared with 31 percent of men.

  4. A history of depression was identified in 49 percent of women compared with 24 percent of men.

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