The findings in a series of articlespublished in the Journal of theAmerican College of Cardiology andCirculation revealed that women aremore likely than men to have a hiddentype of heart disease. This diseaseinvolves heart muscles that arestarved for oxygen, even though thecoronary arteries appear to be free ofblockages on x-rays. This condition,which may affect as many as 3 millionAmerican women, greatly increasestheir risk of having a heart attack. Itsmain symptom is chest pain, but nowarning signs show up on angiograms,so in most cases doctors concludethat no treatment is needed.Many of these patients, however, goon to develop heart failure.
George Sopko, MD, of the NationalHeart, Lung, and Blood Institute, saidthat these patients definitely need tobe treated for this condition. Awoman's reaction to a heart attackcan differ greatly from a man's. Mentraditionally experience crushingchest pain, whereas women are morelikely to experience dizziness, shortnessof breath, and sweating.
The best way for women to discoverwhether they have this condition isto undergo specific types of tests,including stress tests that measurethe flow of blood to the heart.Researchers emphasize that onlywomen with symptoms, a family historyof heart disease, or severe riskfactors need to be concerned.