Stress affects heart attack recovery in women

Tuesday 10th February 2015 - Deborah Condon , View Article Here

Young and middle-aged women who suffer a heart attack tend to have a worse recovery than men, and stress may be partially to blame for this, a new study has found.

Until now, research into the recovery outcomes of young and middle-aged women who suffer a heart attack has been limited, so US researchers decided to look into this further.

They analysed data relating to almost 2,400 women and 1,175 men who had survived a heart attack. All were aged between 18 and 55. During the participants' initial stay in hospital, their stress levels were measured.

The study found that one month after a heart attack, women had recovered worse than men in a number of areas including quality of life and overall health.

It also found that women had ‘significantly higher level of mental stress compared to their male counterparts', and that this increased stress partially explained their poorer recovery.

The researchers noted that women were more likely to be stressed about family issues, while men were more likely to be stressed about money issues. For example, one in three women reported family conflict in the past year compared to one in five men.

The team from Yale University said that more research is needed to understand how exactly stress and other psychosocial factors affect recovery after a heart attack.

"We need to think more broadly about our patients. We have to consider their state of mind and the experiences of their lives," commented the study's senior author, Dr Harlan Krumholz, of Yale's School of Medicine and Public Health.

Details of these findings are published in the journal, Circulation.

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