Risky relationships: why women are more likely to die of a broken heart

Divorce puts women under significantly more physiological strain than men, research reveals. When men remarry, their risk of heart attack drops again, but Stamp writes that, for women, divorce means a rewriting of their health prospectus forever: “The risks posed by divorce to a woman’s heart health is on a similar level to that of high blood pressure or smoking.” Men married to women, on the other hand, are significantly less likely to have heart attacks in the first place and those who do recover from them much faster than single men or women married to men.

Stamp – who is often mistaken for a nurse and referred to by her first name where her male colleagues are addressed with titles – explains that gendered issues in the industry affect medicine itself. “Women in academic medicine or even in higher levels of medical research in general are quite underrepresented. And whether we like it or not, we all have a bias towards looking at things that are more pertinent to ourselves,” she says. So, with all of that, we’re only just now learning about both the biological and social differences between men’s and women’s hearts. And because of that, the knowledge isn’t there among healthcare practitioners, and so we don’t know what to look out for and we dismiss symptoms. Women don’t want to seem silly and then they go to their healthcare expert, a doctor or nurse, and they dismiss it as well because the symptoms are strange or because women are more likely to be perceived as being anxious. It’s just this storm of complications that mean that women’s hearts are so much more at risk.”


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