Treating Heart Disease in Women: Why the Disparities?

Sharon L. Mulvagh, MD; Patricia J.M. Best, MD


February 07, 2014

Editorial Collaboration

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In This Article

Still Different After All These Years

Sharon L. Mulvagh, MD: Greetings. I'm Dr. Sharon Mulvagh, Director of the Women's Heart Clinic and Professor of Medicine at the Mayo Clinic. Today on Mayo Clinic Talks, we will be discussing the treatment of heart disease in women, and why there are gender disparities.

With me today is my colleague Dr. Patricia Best, who specializes in invasive cardiology in the Mayo Women's Heart Clinic. Patty, it's great to have you here.

Patricia J.M. Best, MD: Thank you so much, Dr. Mulvagh.

Dr. Mulvagh: When we say that there are disparities in treating heart disease in women, what are the differences between women and men?

Dr. Best: Several differences are seen when women present with heart disease. Recent studies demonstrate that when women come in for evaluation, even if they have the same symptoms as men, they are less likely to undergo stress testing. If a woman's stress test is abnormal, she is less likely to be referred for invasive angiography.

When women present to the emergency room, acute coronary syndrome is less likely to be considered initially, and women tend to experience longer delays in treatment. These delays occur both in presenting to the emergency room and in being treated for acute coronary syndrome after presentation.

Dr. Mulvagh: We should focus our talk on acute coronary syndrome and those disparities. In the recent questionnaire study by Dr. Lori Mosca,[1] only 65% of women said that they would call 911 if they experienced typical or concerning chest pain symptoms. However, if their spouses or significant others were having chest pain symptoms, 81% would call.


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