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of the economic burden of heart disease; most studies have focused almost exclusively on men.

"If we had an adequate understanding of the different causes of chest pain in women, we wouldn't be spending all this money on women who have open arteries but keep cycling through the system. This is not a small problem, and it is not going to go away, which means we must continue to invest in research specific to women," Bairey Merz said.

Among women in the study, those with vessel obstructions tended to be older and postmenopausal with a greater prevalence of cardiac risk factors. Those with nonobstructive disease were more often obese and with prior hysterectomy, polycystic ovary syndrome and a positive stress test. When the researchers extrapolated lifetime costs from the five-year data, they took age into consideration. For example, for younger women, total cost was related to greater life expectancy and drug treatment costs.

In a study published earlier this year, the WISE researchers shed light on a female-specific vascular disorder that often causes women to suffer from heart-related chest pain even though their arteries are not blocked by plaque deposits. Two areas of dysfunction one in the cells lining coronary arteries and another in the tiny vessels branching within the heart itself combine to deprive the heart muscle of oxygen. These functional rather than structural abnormalities, while not seen on coronary angiography, result in abnormal resistance that limits blood flow to the heart tissue.

"Nearly half of women undergoing clinically indicated coronary angiography have nonobstructive CAD. Now we are beginning to appreciate the financial burden that is placed upon these women as well as on the health care system as they continue to seek medications and therapies to reduce ischemia and angina over their lifetimes," said Bairey Merz, who holds the Women's Guild Chair in Women's Health at Cedars-Sinai.

Compared
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Contact: Sandy Van
sandy@prpacific.com
800-880-2397
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
30-Aug-2006


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