Women with diabetes under the age of 45 have a six-fold higher risk of a heart attack, according to new research. Additionally, smoking was found to be a stronger risk factor than older age in women.
7,386 women were assessed from three national registries: the Polish Registry of Acute Coronary Syndromes, the Multicentre Study of State National Population Health and the National Survey of Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Diseases.
Diabetes and MI
1,941 women aged 45 and younger with myocardial infarction (heart attack) were retrospectively compared to two control groups: the first was 4,275 women aged 63-64 with MI, while the second was 1,170 healthy women with no history of myocardial infarction (MI).
In the young MI patients, whose ages ranged between 21 and 45, the four strongest independent predictors of MI were diabetes (which increased the risk six-fold), arterial high blood pressure (four-fold), high cholesterol (three-fold) and smoking (1.6 times).
There was no statistical significance for obesity measured by Body Mass Index (BMI), and Professor Hanna Szwed, study author and head of a department of coronary artery disease at the Institute of Cardiology, Warsaw, explained this “could be because of the overwhelming influence of diabetes in this population.”
People with diabetes can reduce their risk of MI by reducing their calorie intake. Furthermore, keeping blood glucose levels under control and lowering HbA1c can significant decrease the risk of a heart attack.
Impact of smoking
The young healthy women had an average of 1.1 risk factors, while this was 1.7 for young MI patients and 2.0 for older women.
Arterial hypertensio, hypercholesterolemia and diabetes were observed more in the young women with MI compared to the young healthy women, while the first group were also more likely to be current or past smokers.
Szwed added: “We found that the risk factor profile in young women with MI was similar to the older population apart from the greater occurrence of tobacco smoking in young women.”
“This finding correlates with other research which shows that smoking is a growing problem in young women. This is clearly an area where prevention efforts are needed.”
The findings of this study were presented at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress in London.

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