Diabetic women aged 45 years and under have a six-fold risk of heart attack, according to a new research which included more than 7,000 women.
The study also found that young women who had a heart attack (myocardial infarction, MI) were more likely to be smokers than older women with MI.
“Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) affect mainly the elderly, but for many years an increase in incidence has been observed in young people as well, regardless of gender,” said Professor Hanna Szwed, head of the 2nd Department of Coronary Artery Disease, Institute of Cardiology in Warsaw, Poland.
“The World Health Organisation estimates that CVDs cause more than 52 per cent of all deaths in women and the number continues to rise. Up to 1 per cent of all heart attacks are in young women,” Szwed said.
The study in 7,386 women assessed the effect of risk factors on MI incidence in young women and assessed differences related to age.
The epidemiological profile of 1,941 young women with MI was retrospectively compared with two control groups: 4,275 women aged 63-64 years with MI and 1,170 healthy women (no MI history).
The study used data from three national registries. Data on women with MI came from the Polish Registry of Acute Coronary Syndromes (PL-ACS). Information on healthy women was from the Multicentre Study of State National Population Health (WOBASZ) and National Survey of Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Diseases (NATPOL).
The average age among young MI patients in the study was 42 years (range 21-45 years). Multivariate analysis showed that four out of five classic risk factors were independent predictors of MI in young women. The strongest was diabetes which increased MI risk by six-fold.
Arterial hypertension increased risk by four times while hypercholesterolemia tripled risk and current smoking increased risk by 1.6 times. There was no statistical significance for obesity expressed by body mass index (BMI).
“The lack of a correlation with obesity could be because of the overwhelming influence of diabetes in this population. We also found that the risk of MI in young women increased with the number of coexisting factors,” Szwed said.
The researchers found that young healthy women had an average of 1.1 risk factors, while young MI patients had 1.7 and older women with MI had 2.0.
Compared to young healthy women, young women with MI more often had arterial hypertension, hypercholesterolemia and diabetes and were current or past smokers.
The study was presented at the ESC Congress in London.