Study Examines Factors in Women's Death Rate From Heart Attacks

Under age 50, women's heart attacks are twice as likely as men's to be fatal, but the gap narrows and eventually disappears later in life, according to a study in today's New England Journal of Medicine. The discovery by Yale University researchers suggests that biological factors--not differences in medical care--largely explain why heart attacks are more deadly for women.

This study, like many others, found that for all ages combined, women's heart attacks are more likely to be fatal. Overall, 17% of female heart attack victims die in the first weeks after the attack, compared with 12% of males.

But under age 50, when heart attacks are especially rare among women, just 3% of male victims die, compared with 6% of females. By age 75, the death rate for both sexes is about equal, around 19%.

--Compiled by Times medical writer Thomas H. Maugh II

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