The chance of dying in the hospital after coronary artery bypass surgery is greater for women than for men, but the gap has been narrowing over the years.
Add to that the results of a new study that found that women are still more likely than men to face rehospitalization, especially in the year following bypass surgery. After bypass, women had more heart attacks than men and were particularly prone to develop heart failure and episodes of unstable angina.
These poorer outcomes of bypass in women have been attributed to their smaller coronary arteries and to the fact that women tend to be older and sicker than men at the time of their bypass. Women also are less likely than men to get a mammary artery graft, which is generally associated with a better outcome.
These findings emphasize the need for all women to remember that coronary artery disease is their greatest health risk, topping even the risk of breast cancer. This awareness should increase women's motivation to take aggressive preventive measures that may make bypass surgery unnecessary.