Objective: To determine the effects of female gender on long-term survival and subsequent coronary heart disease events in a population developing first clinical manifestations of coronary artery disease.
Design: Follow-up of all Rochester, Minn, residents first diagnosed with either angina pectoris or myocardial infarction/sudden unexpected death between January 1, 1960, and December 31, 1979.
Main outcome measures: Patients with angina pectoris were followed up through 1982 for survival and time to initial myocardial infarction/cardiac death. Patients with myocardial infarction were followed up through 1982 for survival and time to recurrent myocardial infarction/cardiac death.
Results: Angina pectoris was the initial diagnosis for 529 women and 504 men. Myocardial infarction or sudden unexpected death was the initial diagnosis for 611 women and 997 men. The average age of patients diagnosed with angina pectoris was 67.0 years (SE, 0.5 years) for women and 60.0 years (SE, 0.5 years) for men. The average age of patients diagnosed with myocardial infarction/sudden unexpected death was 71.9 years (SE, 0.5 years) for women and 62.0 years (SE, 0.4 years) for men. Women presenting with angina pectoris survived significantly longer and had a lower incidence of subsequent myocardial infarction/cardiac death compared with men of similar age (P < .01). When rates of myocardial infarction and sudden unexpected death were combined to assess all cardiac endpoints with objective criteria ("hard" endpoints), women presenting with myocardial infarction/sudden unexpected death had survival rates and risk of subsequent myocardial infarction/coronary death that were similar to men of the same age. When survival following myocardial infarction was analyzed separately, survival also did not vary by gender.
Conclusion: In this population, women with angina pectoris as an initial diagnosis, but not those with myocardial infarction or sudden unexpected death, have longer survival and lower risk of subsequent myocardial infarction/cardiac death than do men with the same presentation and of a similar age.