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Unique vascular dysfunction in women's heart disease described in major journal supplement

Although ischemic heart disease the reduction of blood flow that can lead to heart attacks is often considered a "man's disease," it takes the lives of more women than men each year. In fact, in 2000, about 60,000 more women than men died from cardiovascular disease.

Now research finds that women's disease is actually very different from that typically found in men, with a variety of complex underlying factors. Further, because women's ischemic disease often evades detection through traditional diagnostic techniques that are based on men's disease, it may continue to cause symptoms but remain undiagnosed until progressing to a critical stage.

An update on findings from The Women's Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation (WISE) Study, a multi-center, long-term investigation sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, is presented in a supplement to the Feb. 7, 2006 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Cardiologist C. Noel Bairey Merz, M.D., chairs the WISE study, which was launched in 1996. Bairey Merz serves as medical director of the Preventive and Rehabilitative Cardiac Center and medical director of Women's Health at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. She also holds the Women's Guild Chair in Women's Health.

When patients seek medical care for chest pain, diagnosticians typically look for a "culprit" obstructive lesion plaque that is blocking an artery. But in many women, 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. "Functional rather than structural abnormalities of the coronary circulation may be the hallmark of the disease in women," according to one of the journal articles.

The WISE researchers offer the first description of this female-specific vascular disorder, "a global pattern of dysfunction in the macro- and microcirculation." Although the "diffuse atheroscleros
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Contact: Sandy Van
sandy@prpacific.com
800-880-2397
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
3-Feb-2006


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