Some heart attack risk factors affect women more dramatically than men

WASHINGTON — Smoking, high blood pressure and diabetes increase the risk of heart attacks for women at far higher rates than for men, according to new research.

The George Institute for Global Health at the University of Oxford evaluated data on 471,998 people between 40 and 69 years old who had no history of cardiovascular disease. Fifty-six percent of them were women.

The study shows that heart attack risk associated with high blood pressure is 83 percent higher for women than men; with smoking, 55 percent higher, and with Type II diabetes, 47 percent higher.

“These findings highlight the importance of raising awareness around the risk of heart attack women face,” George Institute epidemiologist Dr. Elizabeth Millett said in a news release.

“And, ensuring that women as well as men have access to guideline-based treatments for diabetes and high blood pressure, and to resources to help them stop smoking,” the news release said.

As for the risk of heart attack associated with aging, the study found the increase in risk caused by smoking, high blood pressure and diabetes lessened in both sexes as they grew older. But, the risk for women still was higher than with men.

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