Women smokers at greater risk for heart attacks

November 21, 2007

Traditionally women have enjoyed a natural shield against a major cardiac event such as a heart attack. Being a woman has ensured a huge nine year barrier before women become more prone to heart disease, but now a new finding has been reported by the American Heart Association. A study of more than 7,000 men and women undertaken at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore has found that women who smoke eliminate that beneficial barrier and their risk of a heart attack is exactly the same as a man’s.

In real terms, this means that up to now, women who do not smoke would not normally present with heart problems until on average around the age of 71 but women smokers are being seen with heart problems at around the age of 62. That is a loss of nine years, but if you need an even greater incentive to give up – or persuade the woman in your life to do so = then the researchers also found that if a woman quits smoking for at least six months, her risk factors for heart attacks reverts to average.

Interestingly, the analysis of men showed virtually the same, although men only lost 3.8 years because of smoking. Men who didn’t smoke tended to show up with a heart attack at age 61; men who smoked showed up at the emergency room when they were 57.

A final cheery note from the director of the New York University Women’s Health Program. “Smoking among women causes heart attacks, lung disease, and wrinkles so this study is just another reason for women to quit or never start. It takes nine years off your life.”


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