Women Fare Worse Than Men After Heart Attack


by the Go Red For Women Editors

Women age 55 or younger may fare worse than their male counterparts after having a heart attack, according to new research presented at the American Heart Association’s Quality of Care and Outcomes Research Scientific Sessions 2014. Researchers studied records and interviews of 3,501 people (67 percent women) who had heart attacks in the United States and Spain in 2008-12. One year after their heart attack,women were more likely than men to have:

  • Poorer physical functioning
  • Poorer mental functioning
  • Lower quality of life
  • More chest pain
  • Worse physical limitations

“Previous studies show young women have a greater burden of pre-existing risk factors,” said Rachel P. Dreyer, Ph.D., the study’s first author and a post-doctoral research associate in cardiovascular medicine at Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn. “These factors have shown to be more strongly associated with adverse outcomes in women than men.” Women’s poorer health outcomes may be due to a range of socio-demographic, clinical and biological causes, such as undetected chest pain, problems with access to care and increase in work/life responsibilities impacting their health, she said. “Our results can be important in developing treatments specifically designed to improve young women’s recovery after a heart attack.” Dreyer said. “We need to identify women at higher risk as well as think about care after they are discharged.” Learn more heart disease research on Go Red For Women.


  • Debbie Derryberry-Styles

    I turned 50 years old last November, I am 5’5 and weigh 112 pounds. February 2014 I woke with a single, short but strong chest pain. Even told myself – dang I just had a chest pain, how odd. I proceeded to go about my morning routine and got in the shower. Within fifteen minutes I was having unbearable chest pain, vomiting and profusely sweating. I went out of the house in a sheet via ambulance. Within the next thirty hours I was back home with my new heart stent. My left artery was 75% blocked. Please Do Not Ignore Symptoms!

  • Edie Schumacher

    why do you have a picture of a young girl here? This article is supposed to be about women

  • Traci DeLong

    I had two heart attacks before the age of 50. I did not know I had the first one until I was being prepped in ER for surgery during my second. I am 9 months out from that massive heart attack and 6 months out from the second surgery where they unblocked a previously blocked artery and added two more stents.

    I have just graduated from cardiac rehabilitation and continue to work out on my treadmill as prescribed. I have to say I think that this statistic is true based on my own conversations with fellow re-habbers, etc. I am still experiencing angina nearly every day and my cardiologist is now threatening an angiogram in another week or so if my symptoms don’t improve. All of the other tests including an echo check out fine so I am unsure what to do here. I know the choice is ultimately mine. My quality of life definitely did not “bounce back” to normal and I have just come off of a rather unsettling couple of weeks of extreme lethargy.

    • SierraNevada16@yahoo.com Sierra

      Hi Traci, Congrats on graduating from cardiac rehab! It sounds like your body is trying to tell you that something isn’t right. I can understand why you’re not looking forward to an angiogram, but, unlike the other diagnostic testing, it’s the gold standard for seeing what’s going on in your coronary arteries. The echo ultrasound is a good way to see any ‘wall motion abnormalities’ and valve disorders, but it cannot see a blockage. The EKG/ECG shows your heart rhythm and if you are actively having a heart attack, but it also cannot show a blockage. Different types of blood work, like ‘troponins’ show current or very recent heart muscle damage. Since you’re still having angina, it’s best to follow your Cardiologist’s advice. When in doubt, get checked out! :) I wish you all the best!

  • Nathan Thomas

    Yes,exercise routinely and eat healthier, this may help to prevent heart disease and know your family medical history.

  • debbielee912@yahoo.com Debbie

    I had my first heart attack at 44, well it has been 6 years I’m still having chest pain! All my tests come back normal. I get short of breath, dizzy all the symptoms from before. They say everything is working fine and learn to deal with my pains, you’ll know when it’s more serious! I just rest when I can and fight on.