New findings suggest that an irregular heartbeat poses a bigger threat to women than men. Atrial fibrillation – irregular heartbeat – is a risk factor for stroke, heart disease, heart failure, and even death, and this risk is larger in women than men. In fact, women with atrial fibrillation are twice as likely to suffer from stroke as men – this was revealed after reviewing 30 studies involving 4.3 million patients.
Furthermore, women with atrial fibrillation have a 93 percent higher risk of death by a heart condition, 55 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack, 16 percent more likely to develop heart disease and 12 percent more likely to die from any cause in comparison to men.
Review author Connor Emdin, said, “This study adds to a growing body of literature showing that women may experience cardiovascular diseases and risk factors differently than men.”
Women may fair worse from atrial fibrillation because the symptoms may go unnoticed. Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, director of women’s heart health for the Heart and Vascular Institute at Lenox Hill Hospital, said, “It’s reasonable to consider that it’s diagnosed later, or it’s not as recognized or that the symptoms are not the same.”
Emdin added, “Atrial fibrillation in women may be more severe than atrial fibrillation in men, on average, and thereby cause death and cardiovascular disease at a higher rate.”
Researchers suggest that women work to improve their heart health through exercise and diet, managing stress, and control their blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Emdin concluded, “Recent research has demonstrated that lifestyle modification can reduce the severity of atrial fibrillation. And if they have not already done so, women should consult with their physician about use of anticoagulant therapy.”