The gap in heart attack rates between women and men is set to close because unhealthy living is more dangerous for the female cardiovascular system, a study has found.
A new analysis of the medical records of nearly half a million middle-aged people in Britain found that, per person, smoking, high blood pressure, and diabetes produced a higher chance of heart attack in women compared to men.
Despite this, women are less likely than men to be offered proper care packages to deal with problems like diabetes because they are perceived to be at lower risk, experts said.
The researchers from Oxford University said that women may be more susceptible to heart attack if they smoked, had high blood pressure or diabetes because of the way the female body stores fat.
Published in the British Medical Journal, the study included 471,998 people aged between 40 and 69 who were enrolled in the UK Biobank database.
All had no history of cardiovascular disease at the beginning of the study.
The team found that smoking increased a woman’s risk of heart attack by 55 percent more than it did for a man. Meanwhile, high blood pressure increased the female risk of heart attack by an extra 83 percent relative to male, and for diabetes, the relative increased risk was 47 percent.
Dr. Elizabeth Millett, who led the study, said: “Cardiovascular disease is the biggest killer of women but so many don’t realize.
“They’re focused mainly on breast cancer.
“Women should, at least, receive the same access to guideline-based treatments for diabetes and hypertension, and to resources to help lose weight and stop smoking as do men.”
Dr. Sanne Peters, who co-authored the study, said: “Women, on average, are more pear-shaped and men, on average, are more apple-shaped.
“These differences in fat distribution have a different impact on the metabolic system and might explain some of the sex difference seen for diabetes.”
“Rising prevalence of lifestyle-associated risk factors, coupled with the aging population, is likely to result in women having a more similar overall rate of myocardial infarction to men than is the case at present, with a subsequent significant additional burden on society and health resources,” the authors warned.