Smoking Levels Uneven Playing Field Between Women & Men - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Smoking Levels Uneven Playing Field Between Women & Men

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MUNICH, Germany - Typically, women have an advantage over men when it comes to heart disease. They get it later in life. But a new study shows women who smoke lose that advantage.

It's thought female hormones help prevent heart disease. However researchers at a hospital in Norway said they found women who smoke may go through menopause earlier.

They found that makes them more vulnerable to a heart attack.

"When women go through menopause that hormone level drops and tends to raise cholesterol and increases their risk of developing heart disease," said Dr. Stephen Ewer, Inland Cardiology Associates in Richland, Wash.  

Researchers found, on average, men who smoke had their first heart attack at age 64, those who didn't had it six years later.

Women in the study who smoked had their first heart attack at age 66, but those that didn't smoke, didn't have a heart attack until they were 81.

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