Sex differences in acute coronary syndrome symptom presentation in young patients

JAMA Intern Med. 2013 Nov 11;173(20):1863-71. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.10149.


Importance: Little is known about whether sex differences in acute coronary syndrome (ACS) presentation exist in young patients and what factors determine absence of chest pain in ACS presentation.

Objectives: To evaluate sex differences in ACS presentation and to estimate associations between sex, sociodemographic, gender identity, psychosocial and clinical factors, markers of coronary disease severity, and absence of chest pain in young patients with ACS.

Design, setting, participants: We conducted a prospective cohort study of 1015 patients (30% women) 55 years or younger, hospitalized for ACS and enrolled in the GENESIS PRAXY (Gender and Sex Determinants of Cardiovascular Disease: From Bench to Beyond Premature Acute Coronary Syndrome) study (January 2009-September 2012).

Main outcomes and measures: The McSweeney Acute and Prodromal Myocardial Infarction Symptom Survey was administered during hospitalization.

Results: The median age for both sexes was 49 years. Women were more likely to have non-ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (37.5 vs 30.7; P = .03) and present without chest pain compared with men (19.0% vs 13.7%; P = .03). Patients without chest pain reported fewer symptoms overall and no discernable pattern of non-chest pain symptoms was found. In the multivariate model, being a woman (odds ratio [OR], 1.95 [95% CI, 1.23-3.11]; P = .005) and tachycardia (OR, 2.07 [95% CI, 1.20-3.56]; P = .009) were independently associated with ACS presentation without chest pain. Patients without chest pain did not differ significantly from those with chest pain in terms of ACS type, troponin level elevation, or coronary stenosis.

Conclusions and relevance: Chest pain was the most common ACS symptom in both sexes. Although women were more likely to present without chest pain than men, absence of chest pain was not associated with markers of coronary disease severity. Strategies that explicitly incorporate assessment of common non-chest pain symptoms need to be evaluated.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Coronary Syndrome / complications
  • Acute Coronary Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Acute Coronary Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Age Factors
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Chest Pain / epidemiology*
  • Chest Pain / etiology
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Socioeconomic Factors