Heart attack: Risk factors would have more impact on women than men
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Smoking, diabetes and high blood pressure, risk factors for heart attacks, would be even more dangerous for women than for men.
A team from Oxford University investigated 471,998 men and women aged 40 to 69 in the UK Biobank cohort, a large long-term study of cardiovascular disease in the UK.
The participants did not have cardiovascular problems at the beginning of the study and were followed for an average of seven years.
Published in the BMJ, the results show that smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure and a body mass index (BMI) greater than 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 would face a risk of heart attack three times higher than those who have never smoked, which researchers say "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 as men who smoked more than 20 cigarettes a day. Between 10 and 19 cigarettes smoked daily, 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). High blood pressure is associated with an 80% higher risk of heart attack in women, while Type I diabetes exposes them to a risk three times higher than in men (47% higher for type II).
However, BMI has not been associated with 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 major risk factors increase women's risk more than men's, so women reporting these risk factors are at a disadvantage." explains researcher Elizabeth Millett, in charge of this study.
"These observations show the importance of raising awareness about the risk of heart attack faced by women, ensuring that women, as well as men, have access to diabetes and stress treatment, as well as only to help stop smoking, "says Dr. Millett.