The American Heart Association conference is underway in Florida this week and cigarettes and hormones are headlining the latest research.
The American Heart Association says that women on average develop heart disease a full decade later than men. But at that new study at Johns Hopkins involving seven-thousand heart attack patients suggests the nicotine habit alone wipes out that ten year advantage most women enjoy over men.
"Smoking is the most powerful way of reducing the age at which you're going to have a heart attack, but it's more powerful in women than it is in men." said Thomas Aversano, MD, an investigator for Johns Hopkins.
The study found that women who smoked were likely to suffer heart attacks nine years earlier than their nonsmoking peers, compared to a four year difference in men.
Another concern from this conference comes from a Belgium study that suggests an increase in heart disease among women who use the pill for many, many years. Specifically, the study found women had a 20 to 30 percent increase in plaque for every ten years they were taking contraceptives. Since millions of women may take the pill for 20 years, the study suggests women should discuss with their doctors the lowest dose contraceptive they can take.