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Special issue highlights new heart disease research on women

The annual women’s issue of Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, an American Heart Association journal, focuses on research promoting the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of heart disease in women – the No. 1 killer of women in the United States.

“With this issue, we strive to create a future in which a special issue on women’s cardiovascular health is obsolete,” said Harlan Krumholz, M.D., S.M., editor of the journal, director of the Center of Outcomes Research and Evaluation at Yale-New Haven Hospital and a professor in Yale’s schools of medicine and public health in New Haven, Connecticut. “We will know that we have arrived when an abundance of research on the topic of women’s health that generates knowledge to improve the care and outcomes of a formerly neglected population is commonplace.”

Among the findings in original research and commentaries in the issue:

Sex Differences in Outcomes Following Percutaneous Coronary Intervention According to Age

(Robert Wilensky, M.D., University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine)

Despite having less severe coronary artery disease (CAD) than men the same age, women under age 50, were at greater risk for recurrent vessel blockage and adverse events after having percutaneous coronary intervention (procedure to open narrowed or blocked blood vessels). For five years, researchers followed 10,963 patients (3.6 percent women under age 50). While procedural success rates were similar by sex, the cumulative rate of major adverse events was higher in young women at one- and five year follow-ups. “Because of their many years of remaining life expectancy that are threatened by early onset CAD, young women with CAD are a population that warrants special attention,” the authors conclude.

Sex and Ethnic Difference in Outcomes of ACS and Stable Angina Patients with Obstructive Coronary Artery Disease

(Karin Humphries, D.Sc., University of British Columbia)

Among adults with acute coronary syndrome or stable angina and obstructive buildup of plaques in the heart, women, as compared to men, were at significantly higher risk of adverse events (i.e. death and readmission for angina, heart attack, stroke and heart failure), regardless of ethnicity. A key finding of the study was that hospital readmission for angina was the most common adverse event, accounting for 45percent of all observed events. This finding was observed among all sex-ethnic groups, except among the Chinese women whose adverse outcome was driven by higher death rates. The study, conducted in British Columbia, Canada, involved 49,556 patients (25.6 percent women) of which 65.9 percent had acute coronary syndrome. The study suggests a need for more targeted cardiac care and research for women across different ethnicities.