Women Twice as Likely to Be Re-hospitalized After Heart Attack

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May 3, 2023 -- Women under 55 are twice as likely as men to be hospitalized again within a year after a heart attack, the National Institutes of Health reported this week.

The NIH said in a news release that the disparity is likely the result of higher rates of obesity, heart failure, depression and other risk factors among women.

The study was paid for by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, part of NIH. The report was published this week in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

“Whether women have a higher risk for cardiovascular and non-cardiovascular hospitalizations in the year after discharge is unknown,” the study says.

The study points to a need for more focus on risk factors in women 18 to 55 to create better treatment and recovery after discharge, corresponding author Harlan Krumholz, MD, of the Yale School of Medicine said.

“Researchers have known for some time that women aged 55 years and younger have about twice the risk of in-hospital death from a heart attack than similarly aged men,” NIH said. “However, it was unclear whether women also experience a higher risk of cardiovascular and non-cardiovascular complications a year after leaving the hospital following treatment for a heart attack.”

Researchers examined data from the VIRGO (Variation in Recovery: Role of Gender on Outcomes of Young AMI Patients) study. It looks at a broad range of risk factors in women and men who have had heart attacks. The study included 2,007 women and 972 men at 103 hospitals. Their average age was 48 and they were racially diverse.

Almost 30% of the patients were in the hospital again within a year after first leaving following a heart attack. Women had almost twice the risk (1.65 times higher risk) of rehospitalization.