Heart attack: risk factors would have a greater impact on women than men
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Smoking, diabetes and hypertension, risk factors for heart attacks, would be even more dangerous for women than for men.
A team from Oxford University studied 471,998 men and women between the ages of 40 and 69 in the Biobank cohort in the UK, a large long-term study of cardiovascular disease in the UK.
Participants had no cardiovascular problems at the start of the study and were followed for an average of seven years.
Published in the BMJ, results show that smoking, diabetes, hypertension and a body mass index (BMI) above 25 increased the risk of heart attack in both men and women.
But risk factors appear more dangerous in women than men.
If men who smoke are twice as likely as those who have never smoked, smokers run the risk of heart attack three times higher than those who have never smoked, according to researchers "aggravated risk".
The researchers also found that women who smoked more than 20 cigarettes a day were twice as likely to have a heart attack compared to men who smoked more than 20 cigarettes a day. Between 10 and 19 cigarettes smoked every day, the risk of heart attack would be 40% higher for women than for men.
This increased risk is also observed in women with high blood pressure or diabetes (type I and type II). Arterial hypertension is associated with an 80% higher risk of heart attack in women, whereas Type I diabetes exposes them to a risk three times greater than men (47% higher for type II).
However, BMI has not been associated with a higher risk in women.
The researchers found that the aggravated risk persisted with age.
"Overall, men are more likely to have heart attacks than women, but the major risk factors increase the risk of women more than men, so women who report these risk factors are at a disadvantage." explains researcher Elizabeth Millett, responsible for this study.
"These observations show the importance of raising awareness of the risk of infarction faced by women, ensuring that women, as well as men, have access to diabetes and treatment, as well as helping to quit smoking," says Dr. Millett.