Research has shown that factors like smoking, diabetes and high blood pressure increase the risk of heart attacks in women more than they increase the risk in men.
Some newspapers have misleadingly reported that this means women are more likely than men to suffer a heart attack because of these factors. However this isn’t accurate. Women are less likely to suffer a heart attack than men, and while smoking, diabetes and high blood pressure can increase the risk, men are still in more danger.
The research was carried out by the University of Oxford and funded by the UK Medical Research Council and the National Health and Medical Research Council.
Using data from almost half a million people in the UK, researchers evaluated the risk of heart attack and the impact of smoking, diabetes and high blood pressure. The chances of a heart attack rises more in women with these risk factors than in men. But because men have a higher chance of heart attacks to begin with, men are still in greater danger overall.
The study found that women who smoke were around 3.4 times more likely to suffer a heart attack compared to female non-smokers. while men who smoke were around 2.2 times at greater risk of a heart attack than male non-smokers
We can see that the impact smoking has on the risk of heart attack is higher in women than men. But, despite what some headlines have claimed, this doesn’t mean that women who smoke are more likely to suffer a heart attack than men who smoke, just that there risk is significantly higher than women who never smoked.
Comparing Men And Women
The researchers used data from a study involving people aged between 40 and 69 carried out between 2006 and 2010. Participants had medical checks and were measured as well as filling out questionnaires.
To evaluate the risk of heart attack, researchers focused on their risk factors and tracked which participants suffered from heart attacks since the survey was carried out.
The risk factors included age, diabetes as well as diabetes treatment, body mass index, blood pressure, history of cardiovascular disease and history of smoking.
Smoking was evaluated through a questionnaire filled out by participants, so it is possible that some of the information is an estimate or inaccurate. But with the large sample size of almost half a million people, the results are still a useful indicator of how smoking can impact the risk of a heart attack.
The results of the research showed that just over ten percent of participants had suffered a heart attack in the seven years since they were surveyed.
More than seventy percent of the people who suffered heart attacks were men, while less than thirty percent were women. So, men have a significantly higher risk of suffering a heart attack than women. Although the research showed that this difference becomes less prominent in people over sixty-five years old.
The Effect Of Other Issues
Smoking had a big impact on the risk of heart attack in both men and women surveyed and the increase in risk was higher in women.
Women who smoke were around 3.4 times more likely to suffer a heart attack compared to women who never smoked. And men who smoke were around 2.2 times at greater risk of a heart attack than male non-smokers.
Although increased risk of heart attacks in both men and women isn’t the only health concern associated with smoking. Smokers also have a higher chance of developing illnesses like lung disease or cancer as well as decreased fertility and higher rates of miscarriage.
The research found that, compared to smoking, type 1 diabetes has a bigger effect on the risk of heart attack in both men and women. While type 2 diabetes has less of an impact than smoking.
Female participants with type 1 diabetes were more than eight times more likely to suffer a heart attack than women without diabetes. And women with type 2 diabetes increased their risk of a heart attack by around ninety percent.
High Blood Pressure
Participants in the survey with high blood pressure also had increased risk of suffering a heart attack.
Women with high blood pressure were more than twice as likely to suffer a heart attack than those without. While men with high blood pressure were less than twice as likely to suffer a heart attack.
The increased risk with blood pressure was also higher in women, just like smoking and diabetes. But while the risk was increased more in women, men still had a greater overall chance of a heart attack.
The researchers used data collected from almost half a million participants to study the effect of different risk factors on the chances of suffering a heart attack.
They found that smoking, diabetes and high blood pressure all had a greater impact on the chances of women having a heart attack compared to men. However, while the risk increased more in women than men, men still had a greater overall chance of suffering a heart attack.
Type 1 diabetes caused the biggest increase in risk of heart attack for both men and women while smoking was the second highest. The research showed that women who smoked were around 3.4 times more likely to have a heart attack than women who never smoked. And men who smoked were around 2.2 times more likely to have a heart attack than men who never smoked.
While men are still three times more likely to suffer a heart attack than women, smoking, diabetes and high blood pressure can make a big difference. The research highlights how important it is for men and women to be aware of the risk factors affecting heart attacks.
Controlling blood pressure and diabetes as well as quitting smoking are effective ways of reducing the risk of heart attacks in both men and women.