Cardiac imaging is underused in women to diagnose disease

NEW YORK CITY, Feb. 1 Cardiac imaging methods such as stress single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) and stress echocardiography work as well in women as in men to accurately diagnose coronary artery disease (CAD). Women at risk for CAD, however, are less often referred for the right tests, according to a consensus statement from the American Heart Association.

The statement was published in today's special women's themed issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, and presented at The State Of The Heart: Go Red For Women news conference in New York City.

The statement also says that current approaches to diagnostic testing may need to be varied when applied to female patients. An ongoing investigation is needed to fully appreciate how women's hormones affect the vascular system and test results.

Jennifer H. Mieres, M.D., chair of the committee that wrote the new statement, said that women should not be assessed with a "what's good for the goose is good for gander" approach to non-invasive testing. The latest data from heart studies indicate that there are some important gender differences, she said.

"For example, exercise electrocardiogram (ECG), which has been around for a long time, is not as accurate in all women. In women who are able to exercise, it is still useful, but its utility is dependent upon the woman's exercise capacity."

Mieres is director of nuclear cardiology at Northshore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y., and is an assistant professor at New York University School of Medicine. She is vice-chair of the American Heart Association's Cardiac Imaging Committee.

"Heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death in women, and when we look at all types of heart disease, coronary heart disease (CHD) is the largest subset of this mortality, claiming the lives of an estimated 240,000 American women each year," Mieres said. Yet, women who are at risk for CHD sometimes refe

Contact: Carole Bullock
American Heart Association

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