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Women under 75 fare worse than men after heart attacks

Yale Medicine Magazine, 1999 - Winter


Many clinicians have long believed that men were more prone to death from heart attack than women. Evidence from a Yale study suggests that age, as well as sex, determines the outcome. “We found that the younger the age of the patient, the worse the outcome for women compared with men,” says Viola Vaccarino, M.D., assistant professor of epidemiology and public health, who led the study. In the 1,000 cases studied, women under 75 were almost twice as likely as men to die in the hospital following a heart attack, according to findings published in the Oct. 12 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine. Conversely, women 75 or older had a significantly lower risk of death than men that age. Dr. Vaccarino said the age 75 cut-off was chosen only for description of the results. However, no clear dividing line at age 75 was found. On the contrary, there was a gradual increase of risk of dying for women compared with men going from older ages to younger ages. A follow-up study that reviewed about 400,000 cases confirmed the original findings, she says. Further investigations are being planned to look at the reasons for the relatively poor prognosis after heart attacks for younger female patients.
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