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Psychosocial factors during recovery

Gender differences and psychosocial factors during recovery from CHD and MI.

Heart disease not only impairs health, it also impacts roles and relationships. In this way women are thought to suffer more psychosocially than men.

While recovering from cardiac events, women are often expected to maintain traditional roles and responsibilities with respect to household and family, this can result in anxiety and other psychosocial problems[1]. Therefore, in order to decrease the stress among women, health care worker must be aware and provide appropriate guidance to help buffer these negative psychosocial effects.

The quality of life for women is generally reported to be lower post cardiac event[2]. Women do not cope as well physically and psychosocially as men do. Women tend to score worse on psychosomatic symptoms, depression, anxiety and sleep disturbances. Recent study reported on gender-specific changes in Quality of life (QoL) following CVD to distinguish whether gender differences in QoL are due to disease severity, pre-morbid QoL, or aspects affecting recovery. Following 208 patients for 6 weeks, 6 months and 12 months post diagnosis, the researcher found no gender differences between pre-morbid QoL, disease severity and recovery[3]. Although this research provides a new perspective on the psychosocial factors that are thought to limit women in case of a cardiac event, the researchers themselves indicate several limitations that may have impacted the results. For example, the over reporting by women and trivialize dysfunctions by men may have led to biased results.

Both depression and congestive heart failure affect clinical status in important ways. The additive effect of these conditions on an individual’s QoL is evident. The best way of treating depressed heart failure patients is not known, and the effects of various antidepression strategies need to be evaluated[4].


1. Plach, S.K., Napholz, L., Kelber, S.T., (2001) Differences in Anxiety and Role Experience Between Three Age Groups of Women with Heart Disease. Archives of psychiatric Nursing, 9(4): 195-199.

2. Brezinka, V., Kittel, F., (1996) Psychosocial Factors of Coronary Heart Disease in Women: a Review. Soc Sci Med. 42: 1351-65.

3. Jaarsveld, C.H.M., Sanderman, R., Ranchor, A.V., Ormel, J., Veldhuisen, D.J., Kempen, G.I., (2002) Gender-Specific Changes in Quality of Life Following Cardiovascular Disease: A Prospective Study. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 55: 1105-1112.

4. Gottlieb SS,et al.(2004) The Influence of Age, Gender, and Race on the Prevalence of Depression in Heart Failure Patients, Journal of the American College of Cardiology 2004;Vol.43,No. 9:1542-9

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