Smoking, Diabetes Extra Risky for Women’s Hearts
From the WebMD Archives
One risk factor — overweight or obesity — was associated with similar increases in heart attack risk in women and men, the researchers reported Nov. 7 in The BMJ.”Overall, more men experience heart attacks than women,” Millett, an epidemiologist at Oxford’s George Institute for Global Health, said in a university news release. “However, several major risk factors increase the risk in women more than they increase the risk in men, so women with these factors experience a relative disadvantage.” Two cardiologists in the United States said the findings highlight that heart disease is certainly not a “males-only” disease.”What makes this study important, is that over half of the studied population was female — most cardiovascular studies have a male majority,” noted Dr. Satjit Bhursri, who practices at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.”It is also true that women are less likely to get similar screen and prevention interventions than men,” he said. “This study brings to light the importance that screening for cardiovascular disease is universal, as are the outcomes.”
Dr. Cindy Grines directs cardiology at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y. She stressed that heart disease remains the No. 1 killer of American women, especially as the natural cardio-protective effects of estrogen fades after menopause.What the new study “means is that traditional risk factors such as high blood pressure, smoking and diabetes need to be addressed as soon as possible,” even before menopause, Grines said.Millett agreed.”These findings highlight the importance of raising awareness around the risk of heart attack women face, and ensuring that women as well as men have access to guideline-based treatments for diabetes and high blood pressure, and to resources to help them stop smoking,” she said.