Gender gap in acute coronary heart disease: Myth or reality?

World J Cardiol. 2012 Feb 26;4(2):36-47. doi: 10.4330/wjc.v4.i2.36.


Aim: To investigate potential gender differences in the prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors, cardiovascular disease (CVD) management, and prognosis in acute coronary syndrome (ACS).

Methods: A systematic literature search was performed through Medline using pre-specified keywords. An additional search was performed, focusing specifically on randomized controlled clinical trials in relation to therapeutic intervention and prognosis. In total, 92 relevant articles were found.

Results: Women with CVD tended to have more hypertension and diabetes at the time of presentation, whereas men were more likely to smoke. Coronary angiography and revascularization by percutaneous coronary intervention were performed more often in men. Women were at a greater risk of short-term mortality and complications after revascularization. Interestingly, women under 40 years presenting with ACS were at highest risk of cardiovascular death compared with men of the same age, irrespective of risk factors. This disadvantage disappeared in older age. The long-term mortality risk of ACS was similar in men and women, and even in favor of women.

Conclusion: Mortality rates are higher among young women with ACS, but this difference tends to disappear with age, and long-term prognosis is even better among older women.

Keywords: Cardiovascular disease; Coronary artery bypass grafting; Estrogens; Gender; Mortality; Myocardial infarction; Percutaneous coronary intervention; Postoperative complications; Prognosis.