Stress may affect women’s recovery after heart attack

The research team, led by Xiao Xu, PhD, assistant professor of

obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at Yale University in

New Haven, CT, publishes their findings inCirculation- a journal of

the American Heart Association.

Each year, around 720,000 people in the US have a heart attack. Of

these, around 35,000 occur among women under the age of 65.

The researchers explain that past studies have shown mental stresscan

reduce blood flow in the body and encourage plaque formation in the

arteries, which can raise the risk of heart attack. In addition,

stress has been linked to behaviors that may negatively impact health

outcomes, including failure to adhere to treatment.

For their study, Xu and her team set out to determine whether there

are differences in stress levels between men and women who experience

heart attack, and if so, how these differences affect recovery.

The researchers analyzed data of 2,397 women and 1,175 men aged 18-55

who were a part of the Variation in Recovery: Role of Gender on

Outcomes of Young AMI Patients (VIRGO) study.

All participants were heart attack survivors. During their first stay

in hospital for the condition, the researchers used a 14-item scale to

measure the subjects' perceived stress levels.Findings 'highlight the

need to consider how stress may affect patient recovery'

At 1 month after heart attack, the researchers assessed how each

patient was recovering, as measured by chest-pain-related physical

function, overall health, quality of life, among other factors.

The team found that women had worse recovery following heart attack

than men. In addition, women were found to have significantly higher

levels of mental stress than men, which the researchers say may partly

explain their poorer recovery.

The team found that women were more likely than men to report stress

due to a family conflict in the past year (33% vs. 20%), a major

personal injury or illness (22.4% vs. 16.6%) or the death or illness

of a close relative (36.6% vs. 27.8%).

Stress due to a business or crop failure affected men more than women

(7.4% vs. 3.5%), and men were more likely to be worried about

financial issues.

The researchers say their findings emphasize the need to consider how

stress and other psychosocial factors may affect the recovery of

patients following heart attack.

Senior study author Dr. Harlan Krumholz, director of the Center for

Outcomes Research and Evaluation at Yale-New Haven Hospital and a

professor at the School of Medicine and Public Health at Yale

University, adds:

A new study finds that among young and middle-aged individuals who

have a heart attack, women experience higher levels of mental stress

than men, which could have negative implications for their recovery.

In that study, published in the Journal of the American College of

Cardiology, the team found that women exposed to mental stress were

more likely to have myocardial ischemia – reduced blood flow to the

heart – and early formation of blood clots than stressed men, but men

were more likely to experience changes in blood pressureand heart

rate in response to mental stress.

"This study revealed that mental stress affects the cardiovascular

health of men and women differently," said study leader Dr. Zainab

Samad, of Duke University in Durham, NC. "We need to recognize this

difference when evaluating and treating patients for cardiovascular


Credit: Medical News

Kofi Oppong Kyekyeku

I am a Ghanaian Broadcast Journalist/Writer who has an interest in General News, Sports, Entertainment, Health, Lifestyle and many more.

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