Certain health risk factors increase a woman's chances for heart attack more than they do for a man, a study published in the November 2018 British Medical Journal shows. Researchers from the University of Oxford found that women have substantially higher risk for heart attack than men even when both sexes:
- Smoked cigarettes
- Had diabetes
- Had high blood pressure
While all three of these heart disease risk factors increased the odds for heart attack in both men and women, the 472,000-participant study of people aged 40-69 showed:
- Current female smokers have more than 3 times the risk for heart attack than women who never smoked (compared to 2 times for current male smokers vs. male nonsmokers)
The CDC defines current smokers as adults who have smoked 100 cigarettes in their lifetime and who still smoke. Nonsmokers (or never smokers) are adults who have never smoked or who have smoked less than 100 cigarettes in their lifetime.
Among the health conditions that were studied, women were at considerably higher risk for heart attack than men:
- High blood pressure: 80% higher risk
- Type I diabetes: 3 times higher risk
- Type II diabetes: 47% higher risk
These findings reinforce that heart disease is not a "males-only" disease. It remains the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S.
It's also not an "old man's disease." Heart attacks are occurring more frequently in younger people, especially in women, according to research presented by the American Heart Association in November 2018.
How to know your health risk factors.
A study published in the Lancet found that for at least 95% of Americans, cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack are completely preventable. While not all health risk factors are within your controlâ€”think age, gender, family history - ”many can be managed with diet, exercise and other lifestyle changes.
By managing these health risk factors, you may be able to significantly reduce your risk for a heart attack. Making these healthy changes can also protect you against another type of attack - brain attack - known more commonly as a stroke.
If you're not sure what your unique health risk factors are, our free health risk assessments can give you a good idea of where to start.
Once you know what your health risk factors are, you can begin to address them. Even small changes can have a big impact on your health.
Always call 911 when you think someone is having a heart attack or stroke.
For any medical emergency large or small, one of our many Medical City Healthcare emergency locations has you covered. With average wait times posted online, if you do have an emergency, you can spend less time waiting and more time on the moments that matter most.
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