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JAMA Insights
November 18, 2019

Coronary Microvascular Dysfunction Causing Cardiac Ischemia in Women

Author Affiliations
  • 1Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center, Smidt Heart Institute, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, California
JAMA. 2019;322(23):2334-2335. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.15736

Two-thirds of women who present with persistent symptoms and clinical signs of ischemia have no evidence of obstructive coronary artery disease (INOCA) on angiography.1 Cardiac ischemia can be manifested by chest discomfort, shortness of breath, decreased exercise tolerance, and ST-segment or imaging abnormalities at rest or with stress. Although women with a clinical presentation suggesting ischemic heart disease are often reassured after having a “normal” angiogram that their symptoms are not likely cardiac in etiology, 1 in 13 of these women die from a cardiac cause within 10 years of the angiographic evaluation,2 and the most frequent adverse cardiac event is hospitalization for heart failure with preserved ejection fraction with an observed 10-fold higher rate compared with asymptomatic women (3.3% vs 0.3%).1 For these women with INOCA, clinicians should consider the important, yet often overlooked, diagnosis of coronary microvascular dysfunction (CMD)—a small vessel disorder that confers an adverse prognosis in women for which there are available and continuously evolving diagnostic and treatment strategies.

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