TUESDAY, Dec. 3, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Men and women with
mild heart disease share the same risks, at least over the short
term, a new study suggests.
Doctors have thought that women with mild heart disease do worse
than men. This study, however, suggests that the rate of heart
attacks and death among men and women with heart disease is
Meanwhile, both men and women who don't have buildup of plaque
in their coronary arteries have the same good chance of avoiding
severe heart-related consequences, said lead researcher Dr.
"If you have a normal CT scan, you are not likely to have a heart attack or die in the next 2.3 years -- whether you're a man or a woman," said Leipsic, director of medical imaging at St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver, British Columbia. "That's an important new finding."
Leipsic said the ability to use a CT scan to diagnose plaque in
the coronary arteries enabled researchers to determine that the
outcomes are the same for men and women, regardless of what other
tests show or what other risk factors patients have.
The results of the study were scheduled for presentation Tuesday
at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America,
When the coronary arteries -- the blood vessels that carry
oxygen-rich blood to the heart -- start building fatty deposits
called plaque, coronary artery disease occurs. Over time, plaque
may damage or narrow the arteries, increasing the chances of a
Dr. Gregg Fonarow, a spokesman for the American Heart
Association, said coronary artery disease is associated with both
fatal and nonfatal heart episodes, even when a person's arteries
aren't narrowed. Fonarow was not involved with the new
The new study found similar increased risk for major adverse
cardiac events in men and women, even after risk adjustment, said
Fonarow, who is also a professor of cardiology at the University of
California, Los Angeles.
Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death in both women
"Irrespective of sex, controlling the seven major heart health risk factors -- smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, inactivity and poor diet -- can substantially reduce the risk of the development and progression of coronary artery disease," Fonarow said.
These new study findings also suggest that effective medical
therapy, along with lifestyle modification, should be started in
both men and women who have mild heart disease, he said.
For the study, Leipsic and his colleagues used data from a large
international study registry. That registry included nearly 28,000
people from six countries who had images taken of their hearts.
The researchers identified more than 18,000 people without known
heart disease whose scans were normal or showed mild disease, in
which arteries were less than 50 percent blocked.
These patients, including about 8,800 women and 9,300 men, were
then matched with more than 11,000 similar patients.
Based on scan findings and standard risk factors for heart
attack and death, the researchers calculated that men and women
with mild heart disease had the same risk for death or heart
In addition, men and women who didn't have any heart disease had
the same odds for good outcomes, Leipsic said.
Over more than two years of follow-up, only about 250 of the
18,000 patients had a heart attack or cardiac-related death, the
Because the new study was presented at a medical meeting, the
data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until
published in a peer-reviewed journal.
To learn more about heart disease, visit the
U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood
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