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Women Worry More After Heart Attack

International study found gender difference existed in several countries

(HealthDay is the new name for HealthScoutNews.)

FRIDAY, Aug. 15, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Women suffer greater anxiety after a heart attack than men do, says an international study.

The study included 912 heart attack patients from Australia, England, Japan, South Korea and the United States. They answered a six-question test designed to measure anxiety. The standard score for non-patients is 0.35 and 1.5 for psychiatric inpatients.

When tested within 72 hours of a heart attack, women scored an average of 0.76, while men scored an average of 0.57. The gender difference was evident regardless of where the patients lived.

"There were no statistically significant differences in anxiety among the countries. Women from a variety of cultural backgrounds have higher levels of anxiety than men, and the threatening nature of a heart attack produces anxiety, regardless of the patient's cultural background," researcher Debra K.. Moser, a professor of nursing at the University of Kentucky, says in a news release.

This study also found both men and women under age 60 reported higher levels of anxiety after a heart attack than people over age 60.

"We speculate that this is because older people seem to expect illness, while younger ones who are often still working and consider themselves healthy do not. This is just speculation, but seems consistent with some other findings," Moser says.

Anxiety can affect a patient's survival after heart attack and needs to be considered when treating these patients.

"All patients should receive adequate assessment and management of their anxiety, but it is important for clinicians to recognize those groups of patients -- such as women -- who are at greater risk for higher anxiety," Moser says.

The study was published in the July issue of Psychosomatic Medicine.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about anxiety.

SOURCE: Center for the Advancement of Health, news release, August 2003
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