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At Mayo Clinic, I learned that until recently, most cardiac research over the past three decades has been done primarily with male participants, or with women participating in “statistically insignificant numbers’.  Women do volunteer for hormone or breast cancer clinical trials – what we call the ‘bikini approach’ to women’s health research – but we don’t seem as interested in participating in cardiac research.

Many of us still mistakenly believe that heart disease is a man’s problem, even though it is the #1 killer of women. At the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress in Toronto last fall, researchers announced that women are still under-represented in heart research. Although 53% of heart disease patients are women, we make up only 25-34% of the subjects in most cardiac studies.

That doesn’t mean that treatments aren’t approved for women.  But researchers know far less about how heart disease works in women, and how women may react to drugs and other treatments.  So when reading research reports, always consider the gender balance in the study methodology.

  Please consider participating in the Mayo Clinic studies for survivors of Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD).


  And here’s how to make sense of medical research studies.

 Instead of taking a ‘bikini approach’ to women’s health care – in which women’s health research focused on breasts and the reproductive system – Women’s College Hospital in Toronto offers this comprehensive list of resources examining gender differences.


See also:


Your Diet and Heart Disease: Rethinking Butter, Beef and Bacon: “Available evidence shows no appreciable relationship between consumption of dietary cholesterol and serum (blood) cholesterol”  – from the Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee

Familial Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection: Evidence for Genetic Susceptibility. Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine (NOTE: lead study author Dr. Sharonne Hayes of Mayo Clinic’s patient-inspired research on SCAD)

Sex Bias in Referral of Women to Cardiac RehabilitationEuropean Journal of Preventive Cardiology

Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics: 2015 UpdateAmerican Heart Association

A Method for Measuring Coronary Artery Blockage in Heart Attack Patients Can Help Over One Fifth Avoid Stents or Surgery – European Heart Journal

Effect of Weight Reduction and Cardiometabolic Risk Factor Management on Symptom Burden and Severity in Patients With Atrial Fibrillation – Journal of the American Medical Association

Endocrinology Group Rejects New AHA/ACC Cardiovascular Disease Treatment Guidelines Medscape

Angina symptoms increase probability of disability pension and premature exit from the workforce even in the absence of obstructive coronary artery disease – European Heart Journal

FDA warns that popular blood pressure drug can cause severe diarrhea (Benicar in the U.S., Olmetec in EU, Canada and Japan) – Cardiobrief

Calcium in food or supplements increases women’s cardiovascular risk and does not prevent bone fractures – British Medical Journal 

Pregnancy-Related Complications Predict Cardiovascular Disease in Middle AgeAmerican Heart Association

Structural Changes in Hearts of PreTerm Babies – Circulation

Women Who Quit Smoking Do Live Longer Lancet

Perceived Stress in Myocardial Infarction: Long-Term Mortality and Health Status Outcomes  – Journal of the American College of Cardiology

Taking painkillers increases death risk, second heart attacks in survivors, American Heart Association

Cholesterol particle size: more testing, more therapy doesn’t prevent heart attack, Circulation

FDA adds Diabetes warning to statin drug label, MedPage Today

Breast cancer irradiation tied to coronary stenosis Journal of Clinical Oncology

Dronedarone (Multaq) for atrial fibrillation “increases risk of serious cardiovascular  events including death”  – FDA

Multaq for atrial fibrillation increases rates of heart failure, stroke, and death in high risk patients  – New England Journal of Medicine

Multaq for atrial fibrillation “unsafe for many patients” –  Therapeutic Initiatives

FDA issues warning for cholesterol drug Trilipix – FDA

EMA recommends restricting anti-arrhythmia drug Multaq – European Medicines Society

Cigarette smoking causes more arterial damage in women than in men – European Society of Cardiology

New research links obesity with atrial fibrillation heart rhythm disorder – University of Adelaide

Cigarette smoking a greater risk for women’s heart healthThe Lancet

FDA Approves new anti-clotting bloodthinner for heart attack patientsWall Street Journal

Stop-smoking drug Chantix/Champix linked to heart risks Canadian Medical Association Journal

Calcium supplements and heart risk: new fearsBritish Medical Journal

Common Painkillers Risky For Heart Attack SurvivorsCirculation

Warning: PPI drugs for indigestion linked to heart arrhythmias – FDA

New guidelines warn of link between pregnancy complications and heart disease – American Heart Association

Stillbirth and recurrent miscarriage linked to heart diseaseHeart

ICD implants “non-evidence-based” in 22.5% of recipientsJournal of the American Medical Association

Noisy workplace may increase heart disease riskOccupational & Environmental Medicine

Rescue breathing may not be needed for adult CPRThe Lancet

Dental care linked to heart health in older womenHealth Economics

Daily coffee consumption reduces stroke risks – MedPage

Religion not associated with better cardiovascular health – Northwestern University

EKG can show false positive results – Henry Ford Hospital

Obesity is poor gauge of detecting high cholesterol in children – University of Michigan

Venous thrombosis risk rises with some birth control pills– Leiden University

Woman gets first wireless-monitor pacemaker implanted – UK Daily Mail

New study endorses heart benefits of fish oil– American College of Cardiology

Cardiac risk factors on the rise in CanadaCMA Journal

Asthma drug Xolair may increase heart disease risks – FDA

No Benefit to Lowering Blood Pressure below 140/90 standard – Cochrane’s

First Stem Cells Injected to Regrow Dead Heart Muscle– Cedars Sinai Heart Institute

Newest Cardiac Tests Explained– WebMD

Portugese Parliament Passes Law to Limit Salt in All Processed FoodsHeartwire

White Bread, Cornflakes Could Increase Heart Disease Risks Journal of the American College of Cardiology

Ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) May Increase Heart Attack Risks Circulation

Women with Chest Pain Less Likely To Get Optimal Treatment from Paramedics, Women’s Health Matters

Unhappy Marriage Bad for Women’s Heart Health, Heart & Stroke Foundation

No Evidence That Daily Baby Aspirin Prevents Heart Attacks, Oxford University

Genetic Link Between Gum Disease and Heart Attacks, European Society of Human Genetics

Canadian Women In The Dark About Their Health, Women’s College Hospital

Women Wait Longer for Emergency Angioplasty During Heart Attacks, BMJ

Belly Fat in Women: How To Keep It Off, Mayo Clinic

Women’s Pulse Rate May Predict Heart Attack Risk, British Medical Journal

Gender Differences in Diagnosis & Management of Heart Disease, Women’s Heart Foundation

Study Explores Women’s Rare Blood Pressure Condition,  Heart & Stroke Foundation

Breast Best for Mom’s Heart, Obstetrics & Gynecology, May 2009

Women More Likely To Miss or Ignore Heart Attack Warning Signs, Yale School of Medicine.

Misdiagnoses Result in Higher Coronary Heart Disease Mortality Rates in Women Than in Men,  Therapeutic Advances in Cardiovascular Disease, October 2008

Aspirin Improves Survival in Women with Stable Heart Disease, Women’s Health Initiative

Migraine Raises Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine

Menopause Increases Risk of Heart Disease, Canadian Women’s Health Network

♥  Please consider participating in cardiac research about women’s heart disease.


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