Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Smoking Cessation Health Center

Font Size

Heart Attack Complications More Likely for Women Smokers

Study Shows Women Less Likely Than Men to Get Heart Treatments Like Aspirin After Leaving Hospital
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Oct. 7, 2011 -- Smokers have heart attacks earlier than nonsmokers, and women smokers are also much more likely than men smokers to have complications after a heart attack, new research shows.

"Female smokers after a heart attack have about a two and a half times greater event rate -- things like recurrent heart attacks -- over a six-month follow-up," says researcher Elizabeth Jackson, MD, MPH. Jackson is an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center, Ann Arbor.

Her research was published online in the American Journal of Cardiology.

While Jackson discourages both men and women from smoking, the new study finds that women smokers do much worse in that period after an attack than do men smokers.

Smoking and Heart Attacks

Jackson used the University of Michigan Health System's acute coronary event registry to study smoking and heart attacks.

The registry includes data on 3,588 patients. All had been admitted to the University Medical Center from 1999 through 2006. All had a diagnosis of an acute coronary syndrome event, such as a heart attack.

In all, 24% of patients were active smokers. The men who smoked were nine years younger than the nonsmoking men when they were hospitalized for the heart problem. Women smokers were 13 years younger than nonsmoking women when admitted.

The average age of the nonsmoking men was 64 and of the smoking men, 55. The average age of the nonsmoking women was 69 and of the smoking women, 56.

Jackson followed the patients for six months. When she looked only at the smokers, the women had greater chances of complications six months later than the men did.

At six months, 4.4% of the male smokers needed emergency care to restore blood flow. But 13.5% of the women smokers did.

After leaving the hospital, women overall were less likely to receive medical treatment such as aspirin or other drugs to reduce heart attack risk factors, the researchers found.

In the study, the men who smoked had a lower death rate and fewer heart events six months later than nonsmokers, Jackson found. She says it has long been known that if you compare people of all ages who have heart attacks and then look at smokers vs. nonsmokers, the smokers do better in terms of surviving the heart attack.

Today on WebMD

hands breaking a cigarette
Is quitting cold turkey an effective method?
14 tips to get you through the first hard days.
smoking man
Surprising impacts of tobacco on the body.
cigarette smoke
What happens when you kick the habit?

Filtered cigarettes
an array of e cigarettes
human heart
Woman experiencing withdrawal symptoms

man smoking cigarette
no smoking sign
Woman ashing cigarette in ashtray
chain watch