Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Gender Differences in Heart Disease

The Washington Post had an article today (hat tip to Business of Life blog) looking at a different form of heart disease in women as compared to men:

Instead of developing obvious blockages in the arteries supplying blood to the heart, these women accumulate plaque more evenly inside the major arteries and in smaller blood vessels, the researchers found. In other cases, their arteries fail to expand properly or go into spasm, often at times of physical or emotional stress.

These abnormalities, which appear to be particularly common in younger women, can be as dangerous as the better-known form of the disease, strangling vital blood flow to the heart muscle, causing severe and sometimes debilitating pain and fatigue, and sometimes triggering life-threatening heart attacks, the researchers found.

I find this article interesting as the doctors told me I had clear arteries but could have had a coronary spasm that resulted in a heart attack. I wonder what will happen to the many women out there that the study mentions that have this condition and don't even know it?


Blogger DRJ said...

This certainly is an interesting article, particularly regarding the spasm-based heart attacks and the possibility that increased inflammation is significant.

Think of all the women who present with autoimmune disorders, chronic fatigue, or sudden indigestion/upper body pain. By my reading of this article, all these women should have cardiac screenings and may be at increased risk for a heart attack. I suspect that would apply to at least one-third (and probably more) of all women over 50.

11:30 PM, February 01, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...


I would hope that extra information for women on heart disease would not take away from men's health-care. Since women are dying in equal and higher numbers than men, it makes sense to study women's heart disease further as I do think we have a different form of heart problems due to our smaller arteries etc. However, men's heart care must continue to be important--just like treatments for specific male illness like prostate cancer should be high priority etc. I believe that the rate of men dying from heart disease is going down--due to ongoing research. Prostate cancer and other men's health issues also need to be addressed just as women's do etc.

6:52 AM, February 02, 2006  
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