Sex differences in the management of coronary artery disease. Survival and Ventricular Enlargement Investigators

N Engl J Med. 1991 Jul 25;325(4):226-30. doi: 10.1056/NEJM199107253250402.


Background: Despite the fact that coronary artery disease is the leading cause of death among women, previous studies have suggested that physicians are less likely to pursue an aggressive approach to coronary artery disease in women than in men. To define this issue further, we compared the care previously received by men and women who were enrolled in a large postinfarction intervention trial.

Methods: We assessed the nature and severity of anginal symptoms and the use of antianginal and antiischemic interventions before enrollment in the 1842 men and 389 women with left ventricular ejection fractions less than or equal to 40 percent after an acute myocardial infarction who were randomized in the Survival and Ventricular Enlargement trial.

Results: Before their index infarction, women were as likely as men to have had angina and to have been treated with antianginal drugs. However, despite reports by women of symptoms consistent with greater functional disability from angina, fewer women had undergone cardiac catheterization (15.4 percent of women vs. 27.3 percent of men, P less than 0.001) or coronary bypass surgery (5.9 percent of women vs. 12.7 percent of men, P less than 0.001). When these differences were adjusted for important covariates, men were still twice as likely to undergo an invasive cardiac procedure as women, but bypass surgery was performed with equal frequency among the men and women who did undergo cardiac catheterization.

Conclusions: Physicians pursue a less aggressive management approach to coronary disease in women than in men, despite greater cardiac disability in women.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Angina Pectoris / drug therapy
  • Angina Pectoris / therapy*
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Canada
  • Cardiac Catheterization / statistics & numerical data
  • Coronary Artery Bypass / statistics & numerical data
  • Coronary Disease / therapy*
  • Female
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction / complications*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sex Factors
  • United States
  • Women's Health