Heart Attack Risk Differs Between Men and Women
Reported December 5, 2011
(Ivanhoe Newswire) – Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men
and women in the U.S., but that doesn’t mean heart disease is the same when it
comes to the opposite sex.
According to a new study on coronary CT angiography (CTA), a noninvasive test to
assess the coronary arteries for blockages, coronary artery disease, which is
caused by a build-up of fat and other substances that form plaque on vessel
walls, is different for men and women.
Researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina analyzed the results of
coronary CTA on 480 patients. Approximately 65 percent of the patients were
women, and 35 percent were men. The possibility of acute coronary syndrome was
ruled out for each of the patients. Using coronary CTA, the researchers were
able to determine the number of vessel segments with plaque, the severity of the
blockage and the composition of the plaque.
"The latest CT scanners are able to produce images that allow us to determine
whether the plaque is calcified, non-calcified or mixed," John W. Nance Jr.,
M.D., currently a radiology resident at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD
was quoted saying.
By comparing the coronary CTA results with outcome data over a 12.8-month
follow-up period, the researchers were able to compare the extent, severity and
type of plaque build-up with the occurrence of major adverse cardiac events,
such as a heart attack or coronary bypass surgery. The statistical analysis
tested all plaques combined (calcified, non-calcified and mixed) and each
individual plaque type separately.
"We found that the risks for cardiovascular events associated with plaque were
significantly different between women and men," Dr. Nance was quoted saying.
Within the follow-up period, 70 of the patients experienced major adverse
cardiac events, such as death, heart attack, unstable angina or
revascularization. In total, 87 major adverse cardiac events occurred among the
patients during the follow-up period. When the outcome data were correlated with
the CTA combined plaque findings, the results indicated that women with a large
amount of plaque build-up and extensive atherosclerosis are at significantly
greater cardiovascular risk than men.
"This research tells us that extensive coronary plaque is more worrisome in
women than the equivalent amount in men," Dr. Nance was quoted saying.
However, when analyzing risk factors associated with the presence of individual
types of plaque, the risk for major adverse cardiac events was greater in men,
compared to women, when their artery segments contained non-calcified plaque.
CTA provides excellent prognostic information that helps identify risk; however
gender differences still need to be considered.
Source: Radiological Society of North America, December 2011