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Minerva Medica 2007 October;98(5):459-78


language: English

Coronary heart disease in women: battle is won, but the war remains

Mehta P. K., Wenger N. K.

Department of Cardiology Emory University School of Medicine Atlanta, GA, USA


According to the most recent report of the US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, mortality from coronary heart disease has declined in women from one in three to one in four. Due to massive campaigning efforts in educating the medical community and the general public, coronary heart disease has become increasingly recognized as a woman’s disease. Indeed, it is the number one killer in women, exceeding cancer and infectious diseases. Numerous observational studies, clinical trials, and reports have indicated that there are gender-specific differences in the presentation, diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes of coronary heart disease. One common theme, not only in United States, but world-wide is the underutilization of known and validated medical and interventional therapies in women compared to men. Even though previously conducted large, randomized controlled trials had limited numbers of women, recent large scale cardiac trials in women have enabled the development of evidence-based guidelines for coronary heart disease diagnosis and management in women. Importantly, menopausal hormone therapy and antioxidant vitamin therapy do not protect post-menopausal women from coronary heart disease. Aggressive life-style and pharmacologic management of known coronary risk factors in women should be a top priority to improve coronary heart disease morbidity and mortality. Research data continue to emerge to fill the gaps of how gender affects atherosclerosis; in the meantime, continued patient and physician education to increase awareness of coronary heart disease may help to eliminate some of the gender-based disparities in the delivery of coronary care to women.

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