Heart Disease: Women’s Risks Often Misunderstood
Doctors Often Misread Women's Heart Disease Risks, Fail to Treat Appropriately
Feb. 1, 2005 (New York City) -- Not only do many women fail to recognize
heart disease as their biggest health threat, many doctors may also fail to
appreciate their female patients' risk of heart attack and death caused by
A new study shows doctors often misread women's heart disease risk, which
makes women less likely than men to receive prescribed recommended preventive
treatments to lower these risks.
"Physicians have always thought that men are the ones who get heart
disease, but in fact women are getting more heart disease than men and dying
more frequently," says Robert H. Eckel, MD, president-elect of the American
Eckel says that since 1984, more women have died of heart disease each year
than men, and an estimated 500,000 women die of heart disease in the U.S. each
year. That's about one death per minute.
But researchers say the good news is that when men and women are perceived
to be at the same level of risk, they get equal opportunity for preventive
"We did, however, find out that women were less likely than men to
receive cholesterol-lowering therapy, less likely to receive aspirin therapy,
and less likely to be referred for cardiac rehabilitation when they were at
high risk," says researcher Lori Mosca, MD, PhD, director of preventive
cardiology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. "This was almost entirely due
to the fact that physicians would perceive women with the same risk profile as
a man to be at lower risk."
Mosca's study as well as several others on women and heart disease were
presented today at "The State of the Heart: Go Red for Women" news
conference in New York City. All of them appear in the Feb. 1 issue of
Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.