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Medical News and Perspectives
September 13, 2006

Researchers Focus on Alternatives for Diagnosing Heart Disease in Women

JAMA. 2006;296(10):1223-1224. doi:10.1001/jama.296.10.1223

The past few decades have seen an increasing awareness that a substantial minority of women with cardiovascular disease present with symptoms different from those seen in men. But clinical research studies—which, for various reasons, have enrolled mostly men—have shed few clues as to why.

In part because of this knowledge gap, guidelines for preventing, diagnosing, and treating cardiovascular disease have remained primarily gender neutral. Such neutrality may give some women a false sense of security because they do not exhibit classic warning signs of myocardial infarction, such as chest pain or pain radiating to the arms. This can be dangerous, as cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of mortality and morbidity in women as well as in men.

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