Ischemic heart disease (IHD) is the leading cause of death among women in Western countries, and it is associated with higher morbidity and mortality than in men. Nevertheless, IHD in women remains underdiagnosed and undertreated, and the misperception that females are "protected" against cardiovascular disease leads to underestimation of their cardiovascular risk; instead, women with chest pain have a high risk of cardiovascular events. Women suffering from angina pectoris tend to have different characteristics compared to men, with a high prevalence of non-significant coronary artery disease. Angina in women is more commonly microvascular in origin than in men, and therefore standard diagnostic algorithms may be suboptimal for women. This different pathophysiology impacts clinical management of IHD in women. While response to medical therapy may differ in women, they are scarcely represented in clinical trials. Therefore, solid data in terms of gender efficacy of antianginal drugs are lacking, and particularly when angina is microvascular in origin women often continue to be symptomatic despite maximal therapy with classical antianginal drugs. Recently, new molecules have shown promising results in women. In conclusion, women with angina are a group of patients in whom it seems appropriate to concentrate efforts aimed at reducing morbidity and improving quality of life.
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