Despite killing at least as many women as men, coronary heart disease continues to be overlooked in women, a review has found.
Additionally, women are less likely to receive preventive therapies—including lifestyle advice—compared with men at similar risk levels, said Dr. Martha Gulati and Dr. Kavita Sharma from Ohio State University in Columbus. The issue is complicated by risk factors peculiar to the disease in women, such as those related to pregnancy and autoimmune disease.
“CAD [coronary artery disease] is a leading cause of death of women and men worldwide,” their review, published in July’s edition of Global Heart, the journal of the World Heart Federation, states. “Yet CAD’s impact on women traditionally has been underappreciated due to higher rates at younger ages in men.”
Rates of coronary heart disease have declined 30 percent in the last decade, but have actually increased in women under 55, the researchers said. Additionally, more women than men die from the disease, which has taken more female lives than cancer (including breast cancer), chronic lower respiratory disease, Alzheimer’s disease and accidents combined.
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.
CT scans and other imaging techniques show that women have narrower coronary arteries than do men, and are more likely to suffer CAD due to microvascular disease. So while appearing not to have major coronary artery obstructions, women suffer symptoms due to blockages of these smaller vessels.
Women without obstructive CAD suffer repeated hospitalizations and testing due to symptoms of ischemia.
In contrast, obstructive CAD is more commonly found in men who are symptomatic and can be treated with aggressive medical therapy or stenting. This type of CAD is less frequently seen in women.
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