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Heart Attacks Worse for Women's Emotional Health

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(Image credit: <a href="">Heart rate</a> via Shutterstock)

Heart attacks take a larger emotional toll on women than on men, results from a new poll suggest.

The research, from Gallup-Healthways, surveyed more than 353,000 American men and women ages 18 and older in 2012. Participants were asked whether they experienced certain emotions the previous day, such as enjoyment, worry, sadness, stress, anger and happiness, and whether they had smiled or laughed.

Based on their responses, the subjects were given an overall score for emotional health,an indicator of how well they were faring emotionally,with higher scores indicating better emotional health.

Women who had suffered a previous heart attack scored, on average, 73 out of a possible100, which was 8 points lower than the score for women who hadn't experienced a heart attack. These women scored 81 out of 100.

Men who had previously experienced a heart attack also had lower emotional health scores than men who hadn't suffered one, but the difference was not as big: just four points lower, 77 vs. 81.

Women are less likely to report that they have suffered heart attack than men (3.8 percent compared to 6.4 percent), but they are twice as likely as men to die within a few weeks of having one, Gallup-Healthways says.

The findings suggest that women may require more social and mental health support when recovering from a heart attack, Gallup-Healthways says.

The poll findings only show an association and cannot prove that experiencing a heart attack takes a toll on emotional health. In fact, it could be that people who have poorer emotional health are more susceptible to heart attacks, Gallup-Healthways said.

But the findings agree with previous research that found that middle-aged women were more likely to report reduced satisfaction with life after a heart attack. Nearly 50 percent of women in that study who had a history of heart attack had also experienced depression.

Previous polls from Gallup-Healthways have found that women who suffer from cancer and diabetes also have lower emotional health than women who don't have these conditions.

Pass it on: Heart attacks take an emotional toll on women and men, but women appear to fare worse, a new poll suggests.

Follow Rachael Rettner on Twitter @RachaelRettner, or MyHealthNewsDaily @MyHealth_MHND. We're also on Facebook & Google+.

Rachael has been with Live Science since 2010. She has a master's degree in journalism from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program. She also holds a B.S. in molecular biology and an M.S. in biology from the University of California, San Diego. Her work has appeared in Scienceline, The Washington Post and Scientific American.