A new study finds, however, that heart attacks pose an even greater threat to women, with female patients far more likely to die within a year of suffering an attack.
Researchers from the Technical University of Munich analyzed data collected in two previous studies from 4,100 heart attack patients from 1996 through 2005, and found about 3,850 of those patients survived the event. Seventy-four percent of those patients were men, while just 26 percent were women.
The researchers were “surprised” to find that women were about 1.5 times more likely to die less than a year after the event. According to the study, women are expected to return back to their roles sooner than men after suffering a heart attack.
“They are expected to start ‘functioning’ again sooner, which means that they are subject to bigger stresses,” says cardiologist Georg Schmidt, a co-author of the study.
General health also played a role in the findings. The researchers noted that the female heart attack patients were about 10 years older than male patients and female heart attack patients were more likely to have suffered from high blood pressure and diabetes. Mental health strain, particularly symptoms of depression, were also considered a factor, though the study did not examine explicitly for such risks.
In terms of damage to the heart, men and women heart attack victims also differ. Female patients were less likely to have had heart attacks because of narrowing blood vessels, but rather because they suffer from coronary artery disease.
Authors of the study believe that psycho-social factors present a danger of a woman’s chance of surviving a heart attack.