Heart disease in men is more often due to blockages in their coronary arteries, referred to as obstructive coronary artery disease (CAD). Women more frequently develop heart disease within the very small arteries that branch out from the coronary arteries. This is referred to as microvascular disease (MVD) and occurs particularly in younger women. Up to 50 percent of women with anginal symptoms who undergo cardiac catheterization don’t have the obstructive type of CAD.
“When women are sick, they tend to ignore it,” said Jennifer Mieres, M.D., a cardiologist and professor of cardiology and population health at the Northshore LIJ Health System in New York. “We need to put the fact that we’re vulnerable to heart disease on our radar screen and recognize the signs.”
Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer of women in the United States, affecting one out of every three in the United States. Nearly half of African-American women have cardiovascular disease.