Background: Endogenous estrogens prevent lipid peroxidation, which is pivotal in atherogenesis. Dyslipidemia may therefore be more dangerous for men than for women as a risk factor for acute myocardial infarction (AMI). A differential effect by sex has not been empirically established.
Methods: In a prospective population-based cohort study of 23,525 women and 20,725 men younger than 60 years of age at baseline, we followed participants for 12 years for a first AMI. By calculating the proportion of AMI among men with dyslipidemia attributable to the synergism between male sex and dyslipidemia, we assessed the degree to which dyslipidemia is more detrimental for men than for women.
Results: Dyslipidemia and male sex enhanced the effect of one another in relation to AMI risk. The proportion of AMI cases among men with dyslipidemia attributable to this synergism alone was 0.46 (95% confidence interval = 0.35 to 0.57) for high total serum cholesterol, 0.23 (0.05 to 0.41) for low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and 0.52 (0.42 to 0.62) for high non-HDL cholesterol. In contrast, obesity and hypertension were equally detrimental for men and women in relation to AMI risk, with a corresponding attributable proportion of 0.02 (−0.21 to 0.25) and −0.01 (−0.27 to 0.24), respectively.
Conclusions: Current clinical guidelines of dyslipidemia management do not distinguish between men and women in relation to primary prevention of AMI. Our results suggest that in middle age, dyslipidemia is much more detrimental for men than for women, and that preventing dyslipidemia has a greater potential to reduce the occurrence of AMI among men.