Female risk

Study finds women More at risk of Dying of heart attack

A recent study by the Barbados National Registry has found that mortality rates for heart attacks are higher among women than men.

The survey was conducted between 2010 and 2014 using a sample of 819 patients at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH).

Dr Kim Quimby, Lecturer in Immunology at the Chronic Disease Research Centre told a recent health conference at the Sir Henry Fraser Lecture Theatre of the UWI Cave Hill Campus that 31 per cent of women died, compared to 24 per cent of men.

Dr Kim Quimby
Dr Kim Quimby

“The males tend to be on average five years younger than the females – 64 years versus 69 or 70 years old,” Dr Quimby said.   

According to her, the global fatality rate for heart attacks, or Acute Myocardial Infarction (AMI), is 12 per cent. The rate at the QEH is more than twice that – 27 per cent – and Dr Quimby said there was a need to investigate why the rate is so high.

Just over a third of all patients were admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), and more women died.

Dr Quimby said the survey also raised some concern over the level of documentation when dealing with heart attack patients.

Three quarters of the men and 65 per cent of the women had aspirin documented in their notes. Documentation for oxygen was even poorer, she said, with just over 50 per cent of males and females having documented in their notes that they received oxygen in their first 24 hours.

“In 2010, they had 85 per cent of patients document that they had aspirin and that declined to 60 per cent by 2014. Again, in 2010, 80 per cent of patients had documented that they had oxygen and this would decline to 36 per cent by 2014. So the documentation process is becoming poorer. This doesn’t mean they’re not getting it, it just means it has not been documented,” Dr Quimby noted.

In the case of serious heart attacks, or STEMIs (ST Segment Elevated Myocardial Infarction), 43 per cent of patients surveyed had suffered one.

What happens during a heart attack.
What happens during a heart attack.

“Half the males had a STEMI compared to just about a third of the females . . . . Ten per cent of males died compared to 22 per cent of females, and now this is statistically significant. So more females are dying than males from these STEMIs.”

Dr Quimby also noted that there is need for patients to be more educated, as some individuals were taking up to four hours to seek treatment at the Accident & Emergency Department after their symptoms begin.

Symptoms of a heart attack include chest pain, pain in other parts of the body, sweating, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, a sense of anxiety, and coughing or wheezing.

Doctors advise patients to seek medical attention as soon as possible once these symptoms appear.

They also advocate lifestyle changes to minimize the risk of a heart attack, including eating a healthy, balanced diet; exercising regularly; reducing stress; lowering blood pressure; limiting alcohol use; and no smoking.


4 Responses to Female risk

  1. Hal Austin October 8, 2016 at 12:39 pm

    I will like to see an analysis by an epidemiologist with further projections by a life company actuary.
    That these figures should come as a surprise shows the urgent need for a continuous mortality study – which should be funded by the insurance sector. Howe er the figures do not indicate an intergenerational trend.
    One thing we do know is that in terms of longevity, women outlive men. This is global. So, death from heart attacks in Barbados are unusual.
    More important, there should be a study – preferably by medical sociologists, of the quality of service in accident and emergency and the time lapse between arriving awareness of symptoms, arrival at the hospital and seeing an A&E consultant.
    Mortality models are important in calculating future insurance liabilities and in the pricing of insurance products.
    About education, that is the responsibility of the chief medical officer. Ordinary people are not cardiologists.
    This is a clear opportunity for insurance companies and the university’s sociology department to do a joint study.

  2. Pat Edwards
    Pat Edwards October 8, 2016 at 4:00 pm

    It bound to be with so many wonen having to carry the load of wayward children, managing households, caring for sick relatives, unfaithful spouses and lots more…Father God even now heal every broken heart, repair every damaged artery, unblock every blocked artery not only in females but males as well. Make hearts new again. TEACH us dear Lord how to take care of our bodies and give us wisdom in choosing our diet…preserve our lives dear God and cause us to live and not die from heart failure. This we ask in Jesus Name amen.

  3. Rosanna Lewis
    Rosanna Lewis October 8, 2016 at 6:20 pm

    You don’t have to be a genius to figure that out. The birth controls alone places them at a higher risk already.

  4. Hal Austin October 9, 2016 at 9:32 am

    Plse ladies. Women outlive men, that is an actuarial fact, and it is so throughout the world, even in poorest Africa.
    The details as reported are untenable. We need to know the social background of the victims; their occupational status, their health history, their lifestyles, etc.
    In short, a deeper understanding of the victims. Further, with advances in medical science, treating most heart problems is now a day procedure.
    Plse get a breakdown of critical illness lists and you see that heart attacks have moved down the list.
    I am till worried ab out an immunologist giving these details. We need a proper study.


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