Women more likely to die after heart attack

8th January 2018

Looking at data from Sweden’s extensive online cardiac registry, SWEDEHEART, researchers at the University of Leeds and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden determined that women had an excess mortality of up to three times higher than men’s in the year after having a heart attack.

The research showed women were more likely to suffer from other illnesses, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, but these did not fully account for the excess mortality. However, women were on average less likely than men to receive the recommended treatments after a heart attack. 

Moreover, the researchers think that the situation for women in the UK is likely worse than in Sweden, because the country has one of the lowest mortality rates from heart attacks across the world.

Professor Chris Gale, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine and Honorary Consultant Cardiologist at the University of Leeds who co-authored the study, said:

“We need to work harder to shift the perception that heart attacks only affect a certain type of person. Typically, when we think of a heart attack patient, we see a middle-aged man who is overweight, has diabetes and smokes. This is not always the case; heart attacks affect the wider spectrum of the population – including women.”

“The findings from this study suggest that there are clear and simple ways to improve the outcomes of women who have a heart attack ­­– we must ensure equal provision of evidence-based treatments for women.

“Sweden is a leader in healthcare, with one of the lowest mortality rates from heart attacks, yet we still see this disparity in treatment and outcomes between men and women. In all likelihood, the situation for women in the UK may be worse.”

Joel Rose, Chief Executive at Cardiomyopathy UK said “These findings echo what we see in our own research into the misdiagnosis of cardiomyopathy. There seems to be an assumption amongst many doctors that heart problems are only for older, overweight males. People with heart conditions who do not fit this stereotype are not getting the help that they need. Tacking this assumption is vital.”