Women tolerate drug therapy for coronary artery disease as well as men do, but are treated less frequently with aspirin, beta-blockers, or statins

Gend Med. 2008 Mar;5(1):53-61. doi: 10.1016/s1550-8579(08)80008-3.


Background: Women have worse morbidity, mortality, and health-related quality-of-life outcomes associated with coronary artery disease (CAD) compared with men. This may be related to underutilization of drug therapies, such as aspirin, beta-blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, or statins. No studies have sought to describe the relationship of gender with adverse reactions to drug therapy (ADRs) for CAD in clinical practice.

Objective: The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of ADRs associated with common CAD drug therapies in women and men in clinical practice.

Methods: In a cohort of consecutive outpatients with CAD, detailed chart abstraction was performed to determine the use of aspirin, beta-blocker, ACE inhibitor, and statin therapy, as well as the ADRs reported for these treatments. Baseline clinical characteristics were also determined to identify the independent association of gender with use of standard drug treatments for CAD.

Results: Consecutive patients with CAD (153 men, 151 women) were included in the study. Women and men were observed to have a similar prevalence of cardiac risk factors and comorbidities, except that men had significantly higher prevalence of atrial fibrillation (30 [19.6%] men vs 15 [9.9%] women; P = 0.03) and significantly lower mean (SD) high-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations (45 [16] mg/dL for men vs 55 [19] mg/dL for women; P < 0.001). No significant differences were observed between the sexes in the prevalence of ADRs; however, significantly fewer women than men were treated with statins (118 [78.1%] vs 139 [90.8%], respectively; P = 0.003). After adjusting for clinical characteristics, women were also found to be less likely than men to receive aspirin (odds ratio [OR] = 0.164; 95% CI, 0.083-0.322; P = 0.001) and beta-blockers (OR = 0.184; 95% CI, 0.096-0.351; P = 0.001).

Conclusions: Women and men experienced a similar prevalence of ADRs in the treatment of CAD; however, women were significantly less likely to be treated with aspirin, beta-blockers, and statins than were their male counterparts. To optimize care for women with CAD, further study is needed to identify the cause of this gender disparity in therapeutic drug use.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Aged
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Aspirin / therapeutic use*
  • Coronary Artery Disease / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life
  • Sex Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
  • Aspirin