Smoking hits women harder than men in every which way

A new study has claimed that women who smoke have heart attacks at younger ages and are more likely than men to suffer complications months after a cardiac arrest.

According to the study by the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Centre, although fewer women than men smoke in the United States, the gender gap is decreasing, suggesting the toll of smoking is greater on the health of women.

“Smoking is not good for men or women but our analysis shows that women who smoke do worse six months after a heart attack than men,” Elizabeth Jackson, senior author of the study, said.

“We were not able to look at the basic biological mechanisms that would account for this, but other studies can give us some ideas.

“The ideologies of acute coronary syndrome may be different and the atherosclerotic burden greater for women,” she stated.

Jackson and lead author of the study Michael Howe conducted a study to examine the smoking status of patients during and six months after an acute coronary syndrome event, such as a heart attack.

They used the U-M Health System’s acute coronary event registry which has data on 3,588 patients admitted to the U-M Medical Centre from 1st January 1999 to 31st December, 2006 with a diagnosis of ACS.

A reported 24 percent of patients were actively smoking and male smokers were nine years younger than non-smoking men when admitted for their cardiac event, whereas smokers were 13 years younger than non-smoking women when admitted.

Among smokers, gender was a significant factor for risk of complications after a heart attack as six months after their cardiac event, 13.5 percent of female smokers needed emergency treatment to restore blood flow compared to 4.4 percent of male smokers who needed an unscheduled revascularization.

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“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,” Howe said.

“Either way, it clearly emphasizes the need for increased physician awareness and vigilance, in women in particular, after an acute coronary event,” he added.

The study has been published in the American Journal of Cardiology.

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