Coronary artery disease in women

Marianne J. Legato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Although most women cite breast and reproductive cancers as the diseases they most fear, in fact cardiovascular disease is much more likely to kill them: 500,000 American women die each year of diseases of the heart and blood vessels compared with 189,000 who die of all cancers combined. Women's focus on breast, uterine, and ovarian cancer is very much socially and culturally determined. It reflects an outmoded image of women as valuable principally by virtue of their ability to bear and raise children. While women died at about the age of 48 at the turn of the century, biomedical science has extended their life span to the point that a girl born today has an average life expectancy of 86 years. The focus of recent biomedical investigation reflects the changing experience and expectations of women, who will live a full third of their lives beyond the period of reproductive viability. Since 1988, a flood of new information establisbed that the epidemiology, risk factors, clinical features, outcome and therapeutic choices physicians make for female patients with cardiovascular disease are significantly different from those of men. Regrettably, most of the new information we have acquired was almost exclusively harvested from data on Caucasian women: black women often are less than 10% of study populations. The information we do have, however, shows striking differences between women of different races in the severity and outcome of diseases of the heart and blood vessels: black women have significantly higher mortality rates from stroke and myocardial infarction than do white women. Intensive research has achieved gratifying corrections in the promptness with which physicians diagnose women with cardiovascular disease and in the aggressiveness of the therapy they offer to female patients. The result has been a reversal of the trend for women to have worse outcomes from revascularization procedures than men.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)94-100
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Fertility and Menopausal Studies
Volume41
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • coronary artery disease
  • female cardiovascular disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology

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