Heart attack patients from a low socioeconomic background fare much worse when it comes to recovery. This is particularly true among poor women and younger individuals. Senior author of the study Dr. Erica Spatz explained, “Our study emphasizes that patients need us to think about their social needs, not just their clinical symptoms. We have not completed our job if we discharge patients from the hospital and recommend they use medications or services like cardiac rehab that they cannot afford.”
The researchers surveyed over 3,400 heart attack survivors aged 18 to 55 from the U.S. and Spain 12 months after hospitalization for heart attack.
Nearly one-third of the participants struggled to pay for health care and one-fifth had difficulties affording medications. These problems were more common among women. Those dealing with financial burden had worsened health outcomes and quality of life.
Study first author Adam Beckman concluded, “We suspected women may experience greater challenges than men — they often have lower income and less complete medical coverage than men, and care for multiple generations of family, and that this may in part explain why young women have worse outcomes following a heart attack, as compared with similarly aged men.”