In Heart Disease, the Focus Shifts to Women

From The New York Times:Heart1

¶Women with chest pain and other heart symptoms are more likely than men to have clear coronary arteries when tests are performed, a surprising result that suggests there may be another cause for their problems.

¶When women do have blocked coronary arteries, they tend to be older than men with similar blockages and to have worse symptoms, including more chest pain and disability. These women are also more likely to have other problems like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, which may make surgery riskier. And they are more likely than men to develop heart failure, a weakening of the heart muscle that can be debilitating and ultimately fatal.

¶When women have bypass surgery or balloon procedures for coronary blockages, they are less likely than men to have successful outcomes, and they are more likely to suffer from bad side effects.

¶Blood tests that reliably pick up signs of heart damage in men do not always work in women.

¶Women seem much more likely than men to develop a rare, temporary type of heart failure in response to severe emotional stress.

“We don’t have good explanations for these gender differences,” said Dr. Alice K. Jacobs, a cardiologist at Boston University.

More here.