Women More Likely To Receive Fewer Recommended Medications Post-Heart Attack

New research from the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) suggests that women faced a higher risk of dying after a heart attack due to a lower probability that they receive all of the recommended medications they need.

“Female heart attack patients may appear more fragile to physicians since they are often older than men, with smaller bodies and more co-existing conditions such as diabetes and kidney disease,” said study author Dr. Claudio Montalto of the University of Pavia, Italy, said in a press release. “Therefore, I think doctors might avoid potent antiplatelets (a type of blood thinner) and aggressive blood pressure lowering.”

A new study published on ACVC Essentials 4U, a scientific platform of the ESC prospectively enrolled 1,523 participants in the analysis who were diagnosed with a heart attack between 2015 and 2017. The authors noted medications and contraindications at baseline. Follow-up was an average of 264 days.

According to their analysis, women were more likely to die following a heart attack at follow-up. They reported that 55% of women in the study (compared with 64% of men) had received optimal medical therapy at follow-up, and also that women were less likely to undergo invasive procedures compared to men (71% vs. 83%, respectively). Multivariable regression analysis revealed that optimal medical therapy after a heart attack was independently associated with an almost 50% decrease in the risk for all-cause death. Female sex, however, was not an independent predictor of death.

“Our study suggests that it is not being female that causes more deaths, but it is receiving fewer recommended drugs,” said Dr. Montalto. “In fact, getting the right medication nearly halves the risk of dying.”

Dr. Montalto noted that one fo the study strengths was getting detailed information about contraindications.

“Appropriate drug prescription is easily improved with increased knowledge of guideline recommendations and closer attention to contraindications to drug therapy. Our study indicates that these actions could improve the outcome of female heart attack patients.”