High blood pressure, smoking raise heart attack risk more in women

Women at greater risk of heart attack from unhealthy lifestyle than men, study finds

Although the risk of having a heart attack is lower in women than in men of all ages, certain risk factors appeared to have a greater impact on women.

Women with high blood pressure had an 83% increased heart attack risk compared with men, and those with diabetes - both type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes - were more likely to have a heart attack than men. 56 per cent of them were women. "This study brings to light the importance that screening for cardiovascular disease is universal, as are the outcomes".

But now the incidence in men remains the same, but the frequency of heart attacks among women is increasing.

Researchers also looked at the risk of heart attack associated with ageing.

However, a new analysis of the medical records of almost half a million middle-aged people found that, per person, smoking, high blood pressure and diabetes produced a higher chance of heart attack in women compared to men.

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.

The researchers say they do not know why these factors are sex-specific, and no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect, but they do have some theories.

The excess risk of heart attack among people smoking 20 or more cigarettes per day when compared with people of the same sex who have never smoked was twice as big in women as in men.

Millett added that awareness is crucial, as heart attack symptoms can differ for men and women.

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The gap in heart attack rates between women and men is set to close because unhealthy living is more risky for the female cardiovascular system, a study has found.

The researchers, writing in the BMJ, said women should receive the same treatments as men and be offered support to stop smoking.

However, they suggested that the sex difference might be partly explained by differences in body shape. "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", said Elizabeth Millett, epidemiologist from The George Institute in the UK.

The Oxford University team said that unless British women begin to improve their lifestyles, their rate of heart attacks would begin to move towards that of men.

But the rise in risk went even higher for women than men.

In the United Kingdom, women with diabetes are 15% less likely than men with diabetes to receive all recommended care processes, and may be less likely to achieve target values when treated for cardiovascular risk factors.

Women need to be aware they're at risk, but despite lots of campaigns, it's still under the radar of most women.

"They're focused mainly on breast cancer". But, women are likely to experience additional symptoms such as unusual tiredness, dizziness, cold sweats, and nausea or vomiting.

For decades, heart disease was considered a problem that primarily affects men who are overweight in middle age.

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