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Heart Disease Health Center

Women Deserve Equal Heart Attack Care

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Jan. 9, 2002 -- Medical studies have repeatedly shown that women fare much worse after a heart attack than men. But a new study shows that there's a way around this.

Women stand to benefit from treatment just as much as men, and researchers say that gender alone should not be a factor when deciding what's right for your heart.

Surprisingly, in the last 20 years, heart disease has caused more deaths among women than among men, according to the study researchers. And, although heart disease deaths have steadily declined in American men in recent years, deaths in women have actually increased.

Since more women often die after a heart attack than men, intense investigation is underway to determine the most effective treatments in both genders. In this study, researchers from Deutsches Herzzentrum in Munich, Germany, looked at close to 2,000 men and women after they had a heart attack.

First of all, they found that women had different characteristics than did men with heart disease. The women were older -- average age 71 compared with 60 in men, and they were also more likely to have diabetes or high blood pressure.

The men and the women received essentially the same treatment to open up blocked heart arteries. About 90% of them received a procedure called "angioplasty" where a tiny balloon is inflated inside the artery to open the clot. Usually, a metal cage, called a "stent," is then inserted to help keep the artery open.

The women and the men also received the same medicines following their heart attacks.

The good news is that the women were just as likely to be alive a year after their heart attack as were the men. Approximately 13% of both groups died during the year following their heart attack.

In fact, after taking the women's older age into account, they were actually 35% less likely than were the men to die from their heart giving out.

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