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Women & men differ in heart disease traits and treatment

women more aggressive therapy," says Sujoya Dey, M.D., the U-M cardiology fellow who led the analysis.

"But, our findings also suggest the bias may be understandable, because women's coronary artery disease on average appears to be different," she adds. "It's more likely to be diffuse, occurring in vessels too small for angiography, angioplasty or bypass."

Explains Kim Eagle, M.D., the senior author on the study and clinical director of the U-M Cardiovascular Center, "This actually may help debunk the theory that women are being offered less treatment because of bias based solely on their gender. The bias may stem from the disease."

And, he adds, "This means medical management, with aggressive drug therapy, becomes even more important for women. We still have a way to go on making sure both men and women get the drugs that can help them."

Coronary heart disease, which includes heart attack and angina, is the single leading cause of death among American women, killing 254,630 in the year 2000, according to AHA. About 210,000 women will have a heart attack this year, and angina affects 4.1 million women (compared with 2.5 million men). In all, 6.6 million American women alive today have a history of heart attack, angina or both.

But still, Dey and Eagle say, women tend to think of heart disease as a man's problem.

The study examined data from 33,202 men and women who enrolled in the GRACE trial between April 1999 and August 2003, at 100 hospitals in 14 countries. Eagle, Dey and researchers from Austria, England, New Zealand, Australia and the University of Massachusetts prepared the report.

GRACE is an observational database of patients hospitalized with suspected acute coronary syndromes, which includes several kinds of heart attack and unstable angina (chest pain). The data collected include demographics, disease symptoms and presentation, in-hospital management and outcomes.


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Contact: Kara Gavin
kegavin@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
9-Nov-2003


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