What are the sexual predilections of coronary artery atherosclerosis?

Updated: Apr 09, 2021
  • Author: Sandy N Shah, DO, MBA, FACC, FACP, FACOI; Chief Editor: Yasmine S Ali, MD, MSCI, FACC, FACP  more...
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Men traditionally have a higher prevalence of CAD. Women, however, follow men by 10 years, especially after menopause. (The value of estrogen supplementation for prevention of CAD has been discredited by the Heart and Estrogen/Progestin Replacement Study [HERS]). [19, 20]

The presence of diabetes, as well as tobacco use, eliminates the protection from heart disease associated with female sex. In women, as in men, the most common cause of death is CAD, which accounts for more deaths in women than those related to breast and uterine diseases combined. Women with AMI present later than average, are less often subjected to invasive strategies, and experience greater overall mortality. (Similar statistics can also be cited for the presentation and treatment of patients with stable CAD.)

The 2011 update to the American Heart Association guideline for the prevention of cardiovascular disease in women recommends changes in prevention and treatment practices [11] :

  • Women should be considered as high risk, and as candidates for aggressive treatment, if their risk of dying from any cardiovascular event in the next 10 years is 10% or greater.

  • Research studies should publish efficacy and adverse drug reactions (ADRs) by gender, as both can differ in women.

  • Evidence from clinical trials tends to overestimate the real-world efficacy of therapies in female patients, who are generally older and have more comorbidities than test subjects. The guideline is now “effectiveness-based” rather than “evidence-based.”

  • Effectiveness-based considerations have reduced the strength of previous recommendations for use of aspirin, statins (in women with elevated C-reactive protein but normal cholesterol), and aggressive glycemic control in diabetes.

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