Gender-specific data focused on cardiovascular disease (CVD) are becoming increasingly available. This is of great importance, given that CVD has become the number 1 killer of women, and unlike for men, mortality rates do not seem to be declining. Many factors are cited as the causes of sex-based differences, including delays in recognizing symptoms, underutilization of diagnostic tests and treatments, as well as anatomic, physiological, and genetic factors. Evidence of fundamental biological differences in vascular function and the underlying pathologic processes is only beginning to elucidated, motivated by growing evidence of differences in clinical presentations and outcomes between men and women. The good news is that we are starting to see improvements in outcomes for women, such as after coronary revascularization; decrease in complication rates with the advent of new techniques, such as radial access for cardiac catheterizations; as well as increased participation of women in clinical trials. The underlying mechanisms of ischemic heart disease remain to be elucidated, and will help guide therapy and ultimately may explain the higher prevalence of : subendocardial myocardial infarctions, spontaneous arterial dissections, plaque erosion, increased vasospastic disorders, such as coronary microvascular disease, and pulmonary hypertension in women compared with men. We have made great progress in understanding gender-related differences in CVDs, but much remains to be done to optimize the prevention of CVD for both men and women.
Published by Mosby, Inc.