News | October 24, 2007

Are Women at Greater Risk from Angioplasty?

October 25, 2007 - Early intervention saves lives in women who have a heart attack or unstable chest pain, according to research presented at TCT 2007, information that counters reports suggesting women do not fare as well as men following angioplasty.

Responding to media reports of recent studies that emphasized the dangers of angioplasty in women compared to men, Alexandra J. Lansky, M.D., director of the Angiographic Core Laboratory and the Women’s Cardiovascular Health Initiative at the Cardiovascular Research Foundation, said that the comparison to men overshadows the true benefit to women of early intervention.

“Recent news reports suggest that women do not fare as well as men following angioplasty. However, a cumulative view of the research on this topic overwhelmingly indicates that early intervention does benefit women, and in fact, prevents death and heart attacks,” said Dr. Lansky.

A national expert on the topic of interventional cardiology in women, Dr. Lansky is the medical director of www.hearthealthywomen.org and is the lead author of the American Heart Association Statement on Interventional Cardiology in Women.

“We should be comparing interventional strategies in women to other therapies in women, in order to determine whether or not they are beneficial. The comparison to men is largely irrelevant,” Dr. Lansky said.

In women with stable angina, a milder form of chest pain caused by narrowings in coronary arteries that are not immediately life threatening, PCI relieves chest pain symptoms better than medical therapy. In women who have more serious forms of the disease such as unstable chest pain, mild heart attack or heart attack, PCI improves survival and reduces the chances of having a heart attack in the future.

Dr. Lansky said that women have a higher risk of bleeding complications than men, which may be caused by excessive doses of blood thinners given during the procedure; “but this is not cause enough to withhold life saving procedures from our female patients.”

However, she cautioned that recent studies comparing men to women – often looking at only a few hundred patients - have been overemphasized and that as a result, the public has been receiving inaccurate messages.

“Everyone is confused: the media, physicians, and patients. Worse yet, women are now afraid to call for help when they need it most.”

“The message to the public should clearly be that early intervention benefits women with acute coronary syndromes (mild and severe heart attacks). Women should not delay coming to the hospital if they suspect a heart attack and should not be afraid should they need an angioplasty - it could save their life” Dr. Lansky said.

Source: Cardiovascular Research Foundation

For more information: www.crf.org

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