Low income women at greater heart disease risk: study

Low income women at greater heart disease risk: study

Women from low socio-economic backgrounds are 25 per cent more likely to suffer a heart attack than disadvantaged men, according to a major new study which emphasises the need for tailored interventions for women to address the gender gap.

Researchers from The George Institute for Global Health in the UK examined data from 22 million people from North America, Europe, Asia and Australasia.

In a review of 116 studies they demonstrated a lower socio-economic status, compared to a higher, is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease for both sexes, but women from more disadvantaged backgrounds were relatively more likely to suffer from coronary heart disease than similarly affected men. There was no difference found for stroke however.

"It is widely known that people from disadvantaged backgrounds are at greater risk of heart attack and stroke than people with more affluent backgrounds," said Sanne Peters, Research Fellow at The George Institute.

"However, our study has shown there is a significant difference between the sexes. More disadvantaged women are suffering from heart disease than their male counterparts, which is concerning," said Peters.

"Men and women have a similar lifetime risk of heart disease. However, women, on average, develop heart disease five to 10 years later in life than men.

"This advantage is smaller among women with a lower socioeconomic status. We need to examine why this is happening and make sure women are able to access lifesaving treatment," Peters added.

Cardiovascular disease is the single leading cause of death in women worldwide, with an estimated 8.6 million women dying every year, researchers said.

The study demonstrate a need for tailored interventions for women to address the gender gap and deliver the best possible care.

"There is a clear need for sex specific research to discover why disproportionally more women than men are suffering from heart disease in disadvantaged communities and to deliver prevention and treatment programs that will reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease around the world," said Peters.

"However this is beyond just closing the gender gap. We also need to ensure that everyone has the best possible health outcomes and treatment. It should not be dependent on your level of education or where you happen to live," Peters added.

The study was published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

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