Women less likely to have cardiovascular disease and die of it compared to men, according to a new study published in The Lancet.
The researchers from the Population Health Research Institute (PHRI) of McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences examined more than 160,000 people in 21 countries.
Results of the “Variations between women and men in risk factors, treatments, cardiovascular disease incidence, and death in 27 high-income, middle-income, and low-income countries (PURE): a prospective cohort study” suggested that women are less likely to have cardiovascular disease than men.
The Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiological (PURE) study, which observed the participants an average of 10 years, produced the data.
The study showed that several factors did not matter to the results, such as if women had, or did not have, a heart attack or stroke before, where they lived around the world, and their economic status.
This is the first ever study that takes into account the risk factors, incidence of heart attacks and strokes, use of treatment, and mortality in the community, rather than just patients from hospitals.
Women with no history of cardiovascular disease (CVD) were more likely to take preventative medicines, manage hypertension, and quit smoking, compared to men, according to the study.
One possible factor of lower rates of invasive cardiac treatments of women with CVD is the fact that fewer women than men possess the type of extensive atherosclerosis that needs medical interventions, co-author Annika Rosengren, a professor of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, said.
“Other studies have reported that the sex differences in invasive cardiac procedures are not seen once we consider the extent and severity of the coronary artery disease. This suggests that the lower rates of coronary interventions in women is appropriate as they have less extensive disease,” she said.
Women and men in low-income countries
Meanwhile, Salim Yusuf, professor of medicine at McMaster University and the principal investigator of the PURE study, mentioned the issue about the differences in treatment between poorer and richer countries.
“The differences in outcomes in both women and men in low-income countries, where approximately 40% die within 30 days of a heart attack or stroke compared to the less than 10% in high-income countries, is matter of substantial concern. This deserves major attention,” he said.
The study was produced by over 30 researchers from 27 countries around the world, including five from Canada.
The PURE study was made possible by several Canadian health agencies including Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario and the Ontario Ministry of Health.
It was also supported by unrestricted grants from several pharmaceutical companies, the PHRI and the Hamilton Health Sciences Research Institute, with additional contributions from different national or local organizations in participating countries.
Cardiovascular disease among pregnant women
Meanwhile, a study published by Northwestern Medicine revealed that only around 5% of pregnant women have good cardiovascular health.
Based on the study “Cardiovascular Health Among Pregnant Women, Aged 20 to 44 Years,in the United States,” only 4.6% had high cardiovascular health, 61% had moderate cardiovascular health, and 35% had low cardiovascular health.
Doctors need to do more for the heart health of pregnant women, said James Martin, chair of The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ Pregnancy and Heart Disease Task Force.
“We must think of heart disease as a possibility in every pregnant or postpartum patient we see, to detect and treat at-risk mothers,” Martin said in a statement.