For decades, we have heard all of the statistics that more women are dying of coronary heart disease than men. This early finding from the mid-1980s has continued to unfurl with additional data on unique biologic differences coupled with quality of care differences between women and men. All of these factors disadvantage women and illustrate the sizeable gap in knowledge relating to heart disease for females.
If the goals of our health care system are to provide high-quality care for all, then for half the population, we have truly failed! Is this too much of a nihilist’s perspective? Maybe, as gains have been made. We have gained tremendous insight into sex-specific differences over the past decade based on evidence from research using cardiovascular imaging.
To highlight this evidence, today JACC: Cardiovascular Imaging has released a special issue focusing on unique sex and gender evidence in the evaluation of ischemic heart disease, valvular disease, screening and radiation exposure, to name a few. In response to a query from the Journal, many articles were screened for publication in this special issue. The response from the research community was amazing and signifies true interest in identifying causal pathways and novel diagnostic approaches tailored for women. This is a must-read issue for all physicians, women’s health experts and female patients!
We are lucky in cardiovascular medicine as women’s health issues have been a focus in our journals for many years. Within the ACC, we have many activities focusing on women including CardioSmart, the Cardiovascular Disease in Women Committee, and now our journals.
Our world is increasingly more and more diverse and the needs of women are equally varied. Let’s hope that the next decade continues to illuminate the uniqueness of women and how their lives can be improved by cardiovascular imaging. For now, this issue stands as a first in the field of cardiology, specifically in imaging. This is more than a placeholder issue; women’s health is a burgeoning area of interest to all of medicine.
Highlights of the issue include a study that showed routine mammography may be a useful tool to identify women at risk for heart disease, and a study that found that gender may affect the way risk of coronary artery disease (CAD) is factored. Both of these findings were presented during ACC.16 in Chicago. Check out the full JACC: Cardiovascular Imaging issue here.