Although heart disease is a leading cause of death for men and women, sex/gender differences in the disease have only recently received attention. Evidence suggests there are sex/gender differences relating to prevalence, presentation, diagnosis, treatment and outcomes of heart disease, but little is known about the underlying causes. An emerging area of interest is the fact the magnitude of the sex/gender difference in outcomes following a heart attack (favoring men) is much greater among younger women and men than among older patients. Research in this area suggests that this difference persists even after adjusting conventional risk factors.
A leading investigator in the area of cardiac health outcomes, Dr. Karin Humphries has found in previous research that among women and men with chest pain but no evidence of heart disease, women’s outcomes are worse. Now she is focusing on two primary questions: why these women have worse outcomes than men, and what is the relevance of non-traditional risk factors, such as quality of life and psychosocial factors, in young women and men who present to hospital with a heart attack. The results of these studies will provide new knowledge about sex/gender differences and heart disease. Humphries aims to increase understanding of quality of life differences between young men and women who suffer a heart attack, which may help explain the different outcomes and help with the development of new strategies for diagnosis, treatment and support of women with heart disease.