A study released in the journal Circulation found young and middle-aged women can have a harder time in various ways recovering from a heart attack than men. The study also found the poorer recovery was due in part to greater stress among women.
Dr. Mihaela Kruger, an interventional cardiologist who treats acute heart attack patients at Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital, talked about what contributes to the higher stress in KERA's consumer health series, Vital Signs.
From Dr. Kruger’s interview…
What contributes to the stress: “In females, the responsibility of raising a young family, of having a job, in the current economic state of this country where there are many more single family households where females are the sole (person) responsible for raising children and for bringing an income, there is more stress associated with that. Also females tend to be more involved in caring for an older, aging parent. So, taking care of themselves, that’s becoming a secondary issue.
Are women more susceptible to heart attacks? “Not necessarily more susceptible. Women who develop a heart attack the same age as men would tend to be more ill, would tend to have more illnesses. In general, heart disease occurs earlier in men. The average age, 45. And in females, a decade later after menopause. So younger females who do have heart disease tend to have more co-morbidities, we’ll be diabetics, we’ll be smokers, we’ll have other chronic illnesses that would contribute to overall poor cardiovascular health.”
What results of the study suggest about treatment of women with heart attacks: “It may be important to address this issue (stress) as well, not just the medications we prescribe, not just recommending ‘Yes, you need to see the dietitian about what you eat, but also about how much stress is in your life. Your social support system. Do you have enough help dealing with child care? With your parent that you’re caring for? So maybe we as doctors should start thinking about a more integrative approach where we involve, maybe, psychologists, social workers. I believe once you see a patient that has any risk factors for heart disease, you should raise these issues before a heart attack occurs.”
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