Women Face High Risk from Family Heart Disease

A study released in the European Heart Journal reports that women face a greater genetic risk of heart disease than do men. Dr. Sinikka Pohjola-Sintonen of the Peijas Hospital in Vantaa, Finland said, “While a history of coronary heart disease in first-degree relatives is a risk factor for the disease, the risk is greater in women than in men.”

Researchers examined the medical histories of 121 female and 586 male middle-aged survivors of heart attack and their siblings, and then compared those histories to the medical outcomes of the siblings of 130 healthy women.

Study results showed that 76% of female heart patients had a sibling who developed heart disease before age 65, while 62% of male heart patients had siblings who developed heart disease. Researchers found that the differences were more pronounced in siblings under age 55.

The research team concluded that “there is a strong heritable component in coronary heart disease of young and middle-aged women,” and that there is “a greater excess risk of (heart) disease in the families of female patients, especially in their sisters.”


Reuters - March 9, 1998

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