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February 23, 1998

Coronary Artery Disease in Women: A Historical Perspective

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Medicine (Dr Thomas) and Community and Preventive Medicine (Ms Braus), University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, and the Department of Cardiology, Highland Hospital (Dr Thomas), Rochester, NY.

Arch Intern Med. 1998;158(4):333-337. doi:10.1001/archinte.158.4.333

Knowledge about the natural history of coronary heart disease in women was limited until recent years. Few studies included women, despite the fact that heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in women older than 50 years and the cause of about 500000 deaths annually. Over the past decade, knowledge has increased owing to a combination of greater participation of women in medical studies, improved medical technology, and political pressure. While much remains to be learned, researchers have found that coronary artery disease in women typically follows a different course than it does in men. Women's risk factors also differ from men's, in part owing to the key protective role played by estrogen. Increasing knowledge about women and heart disease can provide new tools for physicians caring for women at risk of heart disease.