Both mortality due to cerebrovascular disease in individuals aged under 85 years and mortality due to acute myocardial infarction (AMI) are lower in women than men. In contrast, the age-adjusted 28-day case fatality rate after a first AMI is 20% higher in women, particularly in countries where the incidence of AMI is low. In Spain, the case fatality rate is elevated in women hospitalized for a first AMI, but not in those with other forms of coronary heart disease. The pattern of mortality observed after symptom onset, which shows that death is delayed in women, suggests that the mechanism of death is different in the two sexes. The substantial variation that exists in the way results are adjusted and presented make it very difficult to compare the findings of different studies. Relative to men, women with AMI are 10 years older, reach hospital one hour later on average, more frequently have a comorbid condition (mainly diabetes and hypertension), progress to a more serious clinical state, and have a higher adjusted 28-day mortality risk. Moreover, the treatment given to women during the acute phase is less aggressive. A change in healthcare workers' attitudes is needed so that women with acute coronary syndromes can be identified earlier, thereby increasing the use of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures to a level that corresponds to the greater severity of AMI observed in women at presentation.