Ischemic Heart Disease in Women: A Review for Primary Care Physicians

Posted by: admin on: April 18, 2011

Ischemic heart disease (IHD) is the leading cause of death among women in the Western world, and its prevalence is growing.

Women with chest pain and abnormal stress tests are less likely than men to have critical stenosis of coronary arteries, a phenomenon attributed to endothelial dysfunction. Hypertension, intimal injury, and cholesterol are among the various factors that contribute to endothelial dysfunction.

The presenting symptoms of IHD also differ in women. Women are more likely to describe neck and throat pain and to characterize the pain as intense, sharp, or burning. A history of coronary or other vascular disease, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease places patients at high risk for IHD.

Risk factor modification can be tailored based on each patient’s risk. Hormone replacement therapy, antioxidants, folic acid, and aspirin in healthy women under 65 years of age have recently been shown to be ineffective in the prevention of IHD.


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