Study on myocardial infarction: double risk of death in women

The results of a study by a group of Italian and American researchers who analyzed data from 40 European hospitals show that women who had a stroke before 60 years risk twice as much to lose their lives as men in the same situation. There appear to be causes of hormonal and genetic nature.

Women under the age of 60 who have had a heart attack risk far more than men lose their lives, even when the treatment is identical and infarct was, in a first phase, well overcome. This is the result of a study by researchers at the University of Bologna and the University of California at Los Angeles, the results of the study being published in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

Researchers analyzed the data from 40 European hospitals located in 12 countries and analyzed the situation of 6,177 men and 2,657 women who arrived in hospital after a heart attack. Both men and women were medically treated with the same methods and spent the same time in the hospital on average - there were no differences between the treatments that were applied to men and women. However, it was found that women under the age of 60 were likely to die in the hospital by about 12%, compared to 6% for men. So twice as big! An extremely important difference.

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So far, it was thought that this difference is related to the fact that the symptoms of an infarction in women are more difficult to identify, such as dizziness, difficulty breathing, back pain or jawbone, or a sore throat. In men, the symptoms of a heart attack are clearer and easier to identify: usually a chest pain. It seems, however, that in addition to the difficulty of identifying the symptoms of a heart attack clearly, women also have other biological factors that make them more vulnerable: they have virtually a more sensitive heart.

What kinds of biological differences, when it comes to a heart attack, can exist between women and men? Probably the differences are genetic. An example of such differences identified by Raffaele Bugiardini, one of the authors of the study, is the way men lose their capillary ornaments, having bald problems, while women bleach earlier on average than men.

It would seem that genetic differences are also reflected in the heart's response to an infarction: 4% of affected people die within one hour of infarction, and in this first hour there are no significant differences between the percentage of women and men who they fail to surpass this first hour. But as hours go by, women are twice as likely to die than men. There are differences in the way myocardial tissue responds to the heart attack, and this may depend on genetic factors that are not yet well known.

It would therefore be useful for women to be treated in the future with dedicated medicines - somewhat personalized medicine. The pharmaceutical industry, researchers argue, should carry out dedicated studies that may last for a long time, but the final result would be a much higher percentage of women than the current one who would survive a stroke. At least half of women under 60 who die from a heart attack could be saved!

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