Women With Mild Heart Blockage Report Poorer Health, More Anxiety Than Men

February 24, 2017

DALLAS, Tex -- February 24, 2017 -- Women with mild blockage of coronary arteries report poorer health, more anxiety, and a more negative outlook than men with the same condition, according to a study published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

In general, people with non-obstructive coronary artery disease report more anxiety, depression and a negative outlook, what physicians refer to as psychosocial distress, than the general population. Prior to this study, gender disparity had not been investigated.

Because a patient’s perceived health status, psychological distress, and personality are factors that can affect outcomes in patients with coronary artery disease, psychosocial factors serve as proxy risk factors for future cardiovascular events, said senior author Paula M.C. Mommersteeg, PhD, Tilburg University, Tilburg, the Netherlands.

The researchers explored the association between non-obstructive coronary artery disease and psychosocial distress in 523 patients with non-obstructive coronary artery disease aged 52 to 70 years and 1,347 people from the general population matched by age and by sex. All the participants completed questionnaires assessing their physical and mental health, psychological well-being, and personality profile (degree of negative or positive outlook and level of social inhibition).

Among patients with non-obstructive coronary artery disease, there was a significantly higher prevalence of poor health, anxiety, and type D personality (negative emotions combined with social inhibition) compared with those without the condition.

More physical impairment was reported by women than men, and more psychosocial distress was reported by women.

“We were very intrigued by these sex and gender differences -- we had not thought they would be so apparent,” said Dr. Mommersteeg.

Statistical analysis revealed that these gaps could be explained by several factors related to sex and gender such as societal and cultural norms, age at diagnosis, education level, partner status (married/divorced/widowed/single), employment history, and alcohol use.

The survey and analysis took place as part of the Tweesteden Mild Stenosis (TWIST) study, undertaken to investigate classic and novel risk markers for non-obstructive coronary artery disease.

SOURCE: American Heart Association

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