Women, young men may benefit from heart attack prevention therapy

Women and young men may not seem like typical heart attack patients, but a study finds some may be at high risk and could be candidates for preventive therapy.

In a study presented this week at the American Heart Assn.'s scientific sessions in Orlando, researchers examined data on 3,038 patients who had a heart attack over a seven-year period. Among them, 70.3% weren’t diagnosed with coronary heart disease before they had the attack and about 60% of those patients were men age 55 and under and women age 65 and younger.

Despite that, they were about half as likely to be taking statins as those who had been diagnosed with heart disease, and fewer were using aspirin or combination therapy.

“If you’re an older male, you’re much more likely to qualify for preventive therapy while females and younger males often do not meet criteria despite similar risk factors,” said lead author Dr. Michael Miedema of the University of Minnesota in a news release.

Miedema, who worked with researchers at the Minneapolis Heart Institute added, “While older males are still the most likely group to have heart attacks, we have shown that women and patients with premature disease make up a substantial portion of the heart attacks we are seeing, and very few of these patients are on the medications which research has shown to prevent heart attacks. Better methods of risk assessment could potentially allow us to target more people truly at high risk for an event and avoid excessive treatment of those who are low risk.”