Smokers Have Heart Attacks Earlier Than Nonsmokers

WEDNESDAY Oct. 5, 2011 -- Smokers have heart attacks earlier in life than nonsmokers, and women smokers are more likely than men to suffer complications after a heart attack, according to a new study.

Researchers examined data on 3,588 patients admitted to the University of Michigan Medical Center from 1999 through 2006 after suffering a heart attack. About 24 percent of the patients were current smokers.

Male smokers were nine years younger than male nonsmokers when they were admitted, while female smokers were 13 years younger than female nonsmokers.

Six months after their heart attack, 13.5 percent of female smokers required emergency treatment to restore blood flow in the heart, compared with 4.4 percent of male smokers, the U-M Cardiovascular Center researchers said.

The study was recently published online ahead of print in the American Journal of Cardiology.

"The differences in outcomes among women smokers may reflect inherent biological differences between genders, or possibly less aggressive medical management of women that's been described by other investigators," lead author Dr. Michael Howe, a cardiology fellow, said in a U-M news release. "Either way, it clearly emphasizes the need for increased physician awareness and vigilance, in women in particular, after an acute coronary event."

More information

The Women's Heart Foundation offers a pathway to a healthy heart.

Posted: October 2011


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