Diabetes, Other Risk Factors Significantly Increase Heart Attack Risk in Young Women

AUGUST 31, 2015
Caitlyn Fitzpatrick
Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) cause more than 52% of all deaths in females, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), and myocardial infarction (MI) incidence is increasing in the younger population.

Up to 1% of all heart attacks take place in young females. A team from the Institute of Cardiology in Poland aimed to identify the effect of risk factors on MI incidence and uncover how age plays a role as well. The researchers presented the study at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress in London, UK.

“Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) affect mainly the elderly, but for many years an increase in incidence has been observed in young people as well, regardless of gender,” one of the authors Hanna Szwed, MD, PhD, said in a news release.

A total of 7.386 females were included in the study – 1,941 with MI history (ages 21 to 45), 4,275 with MI history (ages 63 to 64), and 1,170 health controls (ages 45 and younger). Data was collected from three national registries including, Polish Registry of Acute Coronary Syndromes (PL-ACS), Multicentre Study of State National Population Health (WOBASZ), and National Survey of Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Diseases (NATPOL).

Four out of the five classic risk factors of MI demonstrated to be independent predictors of the incidence in young females:
  • Diabetes: Six times the risk
  • Arterial hypertension: Four times the risk
  • Hypercholesterolemia: Three times the risk
  • Current smoking: 1.6 times the risk
  • Obesity: No statistical significance
Szwed explained that obesity may not appear to play a role in MI incidence because diabetes has such a strong influence. However, the presence of multiple factors was associated with an increased risk of MI in the young females.

On average, the healthy controls had 1.1 of the risk factors, young females with MI history had 1.7, and older females with MI history had 2.0. In addition, the young females with MI had more incidences of arterial hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and diabetes when compared to the healthy controls. Furthermore, almost all of the risk factors were even more prominent in the older patients with MI – aside from smoking which was observed more often in the younger females with MI.

“We found that the risk factor profile in young women with MI was similar to the older population apart from the greater occurrence of tobacco smoking in young women,” Szwed said.

Current smoking was found in 65.5% of younger and 45.1% of older females with MI. Past smoking measured in at 48.7% and 22.2%, respectively.

“This finding correlates with research which shows that smoking is a growing problem in young women. This is clearly an area where prevention efforts are needed,” Szwed continued.

The findings present a strong correlation between risk factors and incidences of MI. More research can strengthen the understanding of CVD in younger patients in order to improve prevention and reduce deaths, Szwed concluded.

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