Cardiac disease significantly more debilitating for women than for men, new study finds

August 22, 2002

CHICAGO -- Cardiac disease is a serious health risk for both men and women in the United States but the effects of such illness on quality of life factors is more detrimental for women than it is for men, according to a new study to be presented at the American Psychological Association's (APA) 110th Annual Convention in Chicago.

Psychologist Charles F. Emery, Ph.D., and a team of Ohio State University researchers designed a study to evaluate gender differences in quality of life for people who have coronary artery disease, including unstable angina, myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure, dysrhythmia, valve surgery and transplant surgery.

The research team studied 536 patients, 35 percent of whom were women, with a mean age of 59.5 years. Each patient completed a survey questionnaire and was contacted at 3-month intervals over a 12-month period for follow-up interviews. The survey included measures of psychological functioning and quality of life assessing variables such as activity levels, emotional state, sadness and anxiety. Also included was a measure of each patient's perception of available social support.

Women had lower scores on both mental and physical composite indicators of quality of life at every survey point within the study. Furthermore, there was a significant interaction of baseline ISEL (available social support) and sex for the mental health composite quality of life scores, indicating that poorer mental health quality of life among women was associated with reduced social support. At 12 months, social support and sex predicted the physical health composite quality of life scores. However, results indicated that social support was more relevant for physical health composite scores of men than for women.

The authors conclude that quality of life among women with cardiac disease is "significantly worse than for men" regardless of cardiac diagnosis, age, race or cardiac risk factor, and that quality of life remains lower for women 12 months after diagnosis or initial treatment. The authors believe their findings support the hypothesis that social support is an important factor associated with impaired quality of life among women.

Presentation: "Gender Differences in Quality of Life Among Cardiac Patients," Charles F. Emery, Ph.D., David J. Frid, M.D., Tilmer O. Engebretson, Ph.D., Angelo Alonzo, Amy K. Ferketich, Ph.D., Nancy R. Reynolds, Ph.D., Jean-Pierre L. Dujardin, Ph.D., Joann E. Homan, Ph.D., Ohio State University, Stephen L. Stern, Ph.D., University of Texas Health Science Center, and Anne Fish, Ph.D., University of Missouri-St. Louis. Session 1029, 8:00 - 9:50 AM, August 22, 2002, McCormick Place, Lakeside Center-Level 2, Meeting Room E258.
Full text paper available from the APA Public Affairs Office

Dr. Emery can be reached before and after the convention at (614) 688-3061 or by email at

A complete listing of press releases and media advisories for the APA Annual Convention is available at:

The American Psychological Association (APA), in Washington, DC, is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 155,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 53 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting human welfare.

Contact: APA Public Affairs Office
(202) 336-5700 (until 8/21)
(312) 808-2350 (between 8/22-8/25)

American Psychological Association

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