Women heart patients suffer lower quality of life than do men

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Heart disease takes a greater toll on quality of life in women than it does in men, new research suggests.

A study of 536 Ohio patients with a variety of heart problems showed that women reported poorer physical and psychological functioning than did men immediately after hospital treatment and for a year following.

Social support may be one key as to why women do more poorly, especially in their psychological functioning, said Charles Emery, one of the leaders of the study and an associate professor of psychology at Ohio State University.

"For women, lower quality of life was associated with feeling they didn't have enough support from friends and family," Emery said. "But levels of social support did not influence psychological functioning among men."

This study is significant because it is one of few that have compared how men and women cope with heart disease over time, he said. Emery presented results of the study Aug. 22 in Chicago at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association.

The biggest difference between men and women was the influence of social support on quality of life. Only among women was the absence of social support associated with poor quality of life

Emery and his colleagues studied patients with heart problems who were admitted to Ohio State University Medical Center during a 14-month period. The average age of the patients was 59.5 years and 35 percent were women. While most cardiac studies include only patients following heart attacks or bypass surgery, this study included patients with any heart-related diagnoses, including unstable angina, congestive heart failure, dysrhythmia, valve surgery and transplant surgery.

After being admitted to the hospital, participants filled out a standard questionnaire that measured physical and psychological functioning. They were asked questions about their physical well-being, such as how well the

Contact: Charles Emery
Ohio State University

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