Adverse cardiovascular outcomes in women with nonobstructive coronary artery disease: a report from the Women's Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation Study and the St James Women Take Heart Project

Arch Intern Med. 2009 May 11;169(9):843-50. doi: 10.1001/archinternmed.2009.50.


Background: Women with clinical findings suggestive of ischemia but without findings of obstructive coronary artery disease (CAD) on angiography represent a frequent clinical problem; predicting prognosis is challenging.

Methods: The Women's Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation (WISE) study examined symptomatic women referred for clinically indicated coronary angiography and followed up for a mean 5.2 years. The St James Women Take Heart (WTH) Project enrolled asymptomatic, community-based women with no history of heart disease who were followed up for 10 years. We compared cardiovascular events (ie, myocardial infarction, stroke, and hospitalization for heart failure) and death in 540 WISE women with suspected ischemia but no angiographic evidence of obstructive CAD with those from a cohort of 1000 age- and race-matched WTH women.

Results: Compared with the WISE women, asymptomatic WTH women had a lower prevalence of obesity, family history of CAD, hypertension, and diabetes mellitus (P < .001). Five-year annualized event rates for cardiovascular events were 16.0% in WISE women with nonobstructive CAD (stenosis in any coronary artery of 1%-49%), 7.9% in WISE women with normal coronary arteries (stenosis of 0% in all coronary arteries), and 2.4% in asymptomatic WTH women (P < or = .002), after adjusting for baseline CAD risk factors. The cardiovascular events were most frequent in women with 4 or more cardiac risk factors, with the 5-year annualized cardiovascular event rate being 25.3% in women with nonobstructive CAD, 13.9% in WISE women with normal coronary arteries, and 6.5% in asymptomatic women (P = .003).

Conclusion: Women with symptoms and signs suggestive of ischemia but without obstructive CAD are at elevated risk for cardiovascular events compared with asymptomatic community-based women.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cohort Studies
  • Coronary Angiography
  • Coronary Artery Disease / complications*
  • Coronary Artery Disease / diagnosis*
  • Coronary Artery Disease / therapy
  • Female
  • Heart Failure / epidemiology
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction / epidemiology
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors
  • Stroke / epidemiology
  • Survival Rate