10 February 2015
Published in the journal Circulation, a new study has suggested that stress could be key in explaining why young and middle-aged women have a worse recovery after a heart attack.
Xiao Xu, lead author of the study and assistant professor of obstetrics, gynaecology and reproductive sciences at Yale University, said the new research found that women under 55 had a significantly higher level of mental stress compared to males of the same age.
Along with a team, Dr Xu analysed the data of more than 2,300 women and 1,175 men who had all survived a heart attack.
Previous research suggests that mental stress may reduce blood flow and promote plaque forming in the arteries. Stress is also associated with behaviours that may adversely affect health outcomes such as treatment noncompliance.
During their initial hospital stay for the trauma, researchers measured their stress levels using a 14-item scale. It found that women had worse recovery one month after their heart attack on multiple outcome measures, such as quality of life and overall health, while they also recorded having higher levels of mental stress.
It is thought that this higher level of stress could partially explain their lengthened recovery, with family issues being their most common concern. Family conflict was cited by a third of all women, while a major personal injury or illness was reported by 22.4 per cent.
Posted by Edward Bartel
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