Not All HDL Cholesterol is Good – Size Matters

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Samar R. El Khoudary, PhD, MPH, BPharm, FAHA Associate Professor, Epidemiology PITT Public Health Epidemiology Data Center University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA 15260 

Dr. El Khoudary

Samar R. El Khoudary, Ph.D., M.P.H. BPharm, FAHA
Associate Professor
Department of Epidemiology
University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The background for this study is based on the current measurements used to determine cardiovascular disease risk in postmenopausal women. Higher levels of HDL “good cholesterol” as measured by the widely available clinical test, HDL-Cholesterol, may not always be indicative of a lower risk of cardiovascular disease in postmenopausal women.

HDL is a family of particles found in the blood that vary in sizes, cholesterol contents and function. HDL particles can become dysfunctional under certain conditions such as chronic inflammation. HDL has traditionally been measured as the total cholesterol carried by the HDL particles, known as HDL cholesterol. HDL cholesterol, however, does not necessarily reflect the overall concentration, the uneven distribution, or the content and function of HDL particles.

We looked at 1,138 women aged 45 through 84 enrolled across the U.S. in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), a medical research study sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). MESA began in 1999 and is still following participants today. We assessed two specific measurements of HDL: the number and size of the HDL particles and total cholesterol carried by HDL particles. Our study also looked at how age when women transitioned into post menopause, and the amount of time since transitioning, may impact the expected cardio-protective associations of HDL measures.

Our study points out that the traditional measure of the good cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, fails to portray an accurate depiction of heart disease risk for postmenopausal women. We reported a harmful association between higher HDL cholesterol and atherosclerosis risk that was most evident in women with older age at menopause and who were greater than, or equal to, 10 years into post menopause. In contrast to HDL cholesterol, a higher concentration of total HDL particles was associated with lower risk of atherosclerosis. Additionally, having a high number of small HDL particles was found beneficial for postmenopausal women. These findings persist irrespective of age and how long it has been since women became postmenopausal.

On the other hand, large HDL particles are linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease close to menopause. Women are subject to a variety of physiological changes in their sex hormones, lipids, body fat deposition and vascular health as they transition through menopause. We are hypothesizing that the decrease of estrogen, a cardio-protective sex hormone, along with other metabolic changes, can trigger chronic inflammation over time, which may alter the quality of HDL particles. Future studies should test this hypothesis.

The study findings indicate that measuring size and number of HDL particles can better reflect the well-known cardio-protective features of the good cholesterol in postmenopausal women. Continue reading

Heart Attacks Less Common in Women, But More Likely To Be Fatal

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Edina Cenko  MD, PhD first author  and
Dr. Raffaele Bugiardini M.D. FESC, FAHA,
Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine, Department of Experimental, Diagnostic and Specialty Medicine, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Recent studies have identified younger women as “at-higher risk of mortality” after acute myocardial infarction. However, There are few studies looking at sex differences in mortality of patients with ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI). None of these studies have adjusted outcomes for treatment and delay to primary PCI, which may largely contribute to variations in clinical decision making and sex differences in outcomes. We used a large data set with fully risk and medications-adjusted models to investigate whether the risk of 30-day mortality after STEMI is higher in women than men and, if so, to assess the role of age in this excess of risk.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings? 

Response: The different twist to this manuscript is to demonstrate that even when women have the same aggressive interventional and medical therapy as men, they die more than men and much more if women are younger , less than 60 years

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Younger women are less likely to have a STEMI, but when they do so they show an excess of 30-day death than men, even in primary PCI treated patients. One strategy does not fit all in terms of women and men and mortality after STEMI. We need a more personalized approach to cardiovascular care. Behind sex disparities, sex is a biological variable in myocardial infarction. 

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: The study supports the new NIH initiative requiring researchers to factor sex into the design, analysis, and reporting of studies. Severe adverse effects in women were not recognized by clinical trials as there was not a sufficient sample of women. Studying (balancing or randomizing) both sexes may inform appropriate medical care for women.  

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add? 

Response: The current study is the first investigation which demonstrates that differences between younger men and younger women in STEMI mortality rates are unrelated to disparities in treatment. This holds true even in patients undergoing primary PCI. However, more studies are needed. Findings from men could not necessarily be applied to women. It is central considering the effects of sex as a biological variable at all stages and in any type of research on ischemic heart disease.

Any disclosures? Nothing to disclose 

Citations:

Cenko E, Yoon J, Kedev S, et al. Sex Differences in Outcomes After STEMIEffect Modification by Treatment Strategy and Age. JAMA Intern Med. Published online April 09, 2018. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.0514 

 

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Women Who Walk Briskly At Least Twice Per Week Have Lower Risk of Heart Failure

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Somwail Rasla, MD

Primary Care Center
Brown University, Pawtucket, RI

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Heart failure (HF) is a major global epidemic. The risk of heart failure rises with age, It triples for women above age 60.
Studies have found an inverse relationship between the risk of heart failure hospitalization and midlife fitness.Walking is the most common form of physical activity reported in women
and older adults. T
his study aims at exploring the association of walking pace (speed), walking frequency and duration with the risk of incident acute hospitalized HF (HHF).

Continue reading

Menopausal Hormone Therapy Linked To Favorable Cardiac Profile

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Mihir Sanghvi Academic Junior Doctor Barts Health NHS Trust

Dr. Sanghvi

Mihir Sanghvi
Academic Junior Doctor
Barts Health NHS Trust

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The effect of menopausal hormone therapy (MHT), previously known as hormone replacement therapy, on cardiovascular health in post-menopausal women remains controversial and unclear. Extensive observational data had suggested MHT to be cardioprotective, leading to MHT being routinely prescribed for both primary and secondary prevention of coronary heart disease (CHD). However, subsequent data from the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) and Heart and Estrogen/Progestin Replacement Study (HERS) studies cast doubt on the beneficial cardiovascular effects of MHT; this was reflected in learned societies’ clinical guidance concerning MHT’s role in CHD prevention. The most recent randomised trial data on the subject arose from the Danish Osteoporosis Prevention Study, which indicated that women taking menopausal hormone therapy had a reduced risk of the composite endpoint of mortality, heart failure and myocardial infarction but the study has been subject to criticism [10]. In more recent work, again from the WHI, there was no difference in cardiovascular mortality in MHT users compared to placebo, although the authors themselves state that cause-specific mortality data should be interpreted “cautiously”.

The UK Biobank is an ongoing, large-scale, population-based study designed to examine determinants of health in middle and old age. Besides extensive collection of health questionnaire data, biological samples and physical measurements, it has incorporated cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) imaging – the gold standard for analysis of cardiac structure and function – to provide detailed imaging phenotypes. At present, there is a paucity of data on the effects of  menopausal hormone therapy on left ventricular (LV) and left atrial (LA) volumes and function, alterations in which are markers of subclinical cardiovascular disease and have prognostic implications.

We found that in a large, population-based cohort of post-menopausal women free of cardiovascular disease, use of menopausal hormone therapy is not associated with adverse, subclinical changes in cardiac structure and function.

Indeed, we demonstrate significantly smaller LV and LA chamber volumes which have been linked to favorable cardiovascular outcomes in other settings.

Continue reading

Does Gender Bias Play A Role in Cardiovascular Surgery in Women?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Habib Jabagi B.Sc., M.Sc., M.D. Department of Surgery University of Ottawa , Ottawa

Dr.  Jabagi

Habib Jabagi B.Sc., M.Sc., M.D.
Department of Surgery
University of Ottawa , Ottawa

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings

Response: Women with coronary artery disease (CAD) are at a significant disadvantage compared to men, as they do not consistently receive the same intensive treatment. For example, when surgery is done in men, it is more common to use arteries, as opposed to saphenous veins from the leg to complete the bypass graft. Arteries, such as the left internal thoracic artery, appear to have much better long-term patency than veins, which translates into improved outcomes.

The motivation for this study was to see if our centre, which has embraced the use of arteries quite aggressively, has suffered the same gender disparities with respect to the use of multiple arterial revascularization strategies in coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG).

Continue reading

Cardiovascular Disease Not a Top Concern For Women or Their Physicians

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

C. Noel Bairey Merz, MD, FACC  Director, Barbra Streisand Women's Heart Center Director, Linda Joy Pollin Women's Heart Health Program Director, Erika Glazer Family Foundation Women's Heart Disease Initiative Director, Preventive Cardiac Center  Professor of Medicine  Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

Dr. Merz

C. Noel Bairey Merz, MD, FACC 
Director, Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center
Director, Linda Joy Pollin Women’s Heart Health Program
Director, Erika Glazer Family Foundation Women’s Heart Disease Initiative
Director, Preventive Cardiac Center
Professor of Medicine
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the number 1 killer of women in the U.S.A., yet few younger women personalize awareness. CVD campaigns focus little attention on physicians and their role assessing risk.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: Overall, 45% of women were unaware that CVD is the #1 killer of women, only 11% knew a woman who has died from it.  Overall, 45% of women reported it is common to cancel or postpone a physician appointment until losing weight. Cardiovascular disease was a top concern for only 39% of PCPs, after weight and breast health. A minority of physicians (22% of PCPs and 42% of cardiologists) felt well prepared to assess women’s CVD risk, and infrequently use guidelines.

Continue reading

Failed Fertility Therapy Linked To Increased Risk of Heart Disease

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Jacob A. Udell MD MPH FRCPC Cardiovascular Division Women's College Hospital Toronto General Hospital University of Toronto

Dr. Jacob Udell

Jacob A. Udell MD MPH FRCPC
Cardiovascular Division
Women’s College Hospital
Toronto General Hospital
University of Toronto 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: We’ve noticed for a long time that fertility drug treatment can cause short-term complications such as high blood pressure or diabetes in pregnancy. We recently started wondering whether there may be long term consequences for these women years after a baby was or was not born.  To do this, we looked at all women who were treated with fertility therapy in Ontario for the last 20 years, from what we could determine this amounted to more than 28,000 women. We then followed up years later to examine every woman’s cardiovascular health.

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Paracardial Fat Linked To Postmenopausal Coronary Artery Calcification

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Samar R. El Khoudary, Ph.D., M.P.H. Assistant professor Department of Epidemiology University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health

Dr. El Khoudary,

Samar R. El Khoudary, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Assistant professor
Department of Epidemiology
University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Our study revealed a previously unknown, menopause-specific indicator of heart disease risk. For the first time, we’ve pinpointed the type of heart fat, linked it to a risk factor for heart disease and shown that menopausal status and estrogen levels are critical modifying factors of its associated risk in women.

My team evaluated clinical data, including blood samples and heart CT scans, on 478 women from Pittsburgh and Chicago enrolled in the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN). The women were in varying stages of menopause, averaged 51 years old and were not on hormone replacement therapy.

In a previous study, we showed that a greater volume of paracardial fat, but not epicardial fat, after menopause is associated with a decline in the sex hormone estradiol—the most potent estrogen—in women. The higher volume of epicardial fat was tied to other risk factors, such as obesity.

In the new study, we built on those findings to discover that not only is a greater paracardial fat volume specific to menopause, but—in postmenopausal women and women with lower levels of estradiol—it’s also associated with a greater risk of coronary artery calcification, an early sign of heart disease that is measured with a heart CT scan.

Continue reading

Increased Risk of Heart Disease in Postmenopausal Women With History of Weight Cycling

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Somwail Rasla, MD Internal Medicine Resident Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island Brown University

Dr. Somwail Rasla

Somwail Rasla, MD
Internal Medicine Resident
Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island
Brown University

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Weight cycling has been studied as a possible risk factors for all-cause mortality and was found to be insignificant in some studies and significant in other studies when adjusted to age and timing of when the weight cycling occurred. It was proposed that weight cycling may increase risk of chronic inflammation by which weight cycling was considered to be a risk factor for increased morbidity and all cause mortalities. Other studies have reported that frequent weight cycling was associated with shorter telomere length, which is a risk factor for several comorbidities including CHD. Earlier studies showed that weight cycling has an association with increase in size of adipocytes as well as fluctuation of serum cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose, insulin, and glucagon which may contribute to the increased incidence of diabetes. Alternatively, in the nurses’ health study , weight cycling was not predictive of cardiovascular or total mortality.

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Coronary Artery Calcium Found in 1/3 Women Designated “Low-Risk’

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr-Maryam-Kavousi

Dr. Maryam Kavousi

Maryam Kavousi MD, PhD, FESC
Assistant Professor
Department of Epidemiology
Erasmus University Medical Center
Rotterdam The Netherlands 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The most recent American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association (ACC/AHA) cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention guidelines recommend statins for a larger proportion of populations.

Notably, a large group of women are categorized as low CVD risk by the guidelines and would therefore not typically qualify for intensive management of their standard risk factors. Coronary artery calcium (CAC) scanning allows for the detection of subclinical coronary atherosclerosis and is viewed as the vessel’s memory of lifetime exposure to risk factors. We therefore aimed to address the utility of CAC as a potential tool for refining CVD risk assessment in asymptomatic women at low CVD risk based on the new guidelines.

This study involved data on 6,739 low-risk women from 5 population-based cohort studies across the United States and Europe. We found that CAC was present in 36% of low-risk women and was associated with increased risk of CVD. Continue reading

Breastfeeding Is a Women’s Health Issue

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Melissa C. Bartick, M.D. Assistant Professor of Medicine Department of Medicine, Cambridge Health Alliance, Cambridge Harvard Medical School, Boston Massachusetts

Dr. Melissa Bartick

Melissa C. Bartick, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Department of Medicine, Cambridge Health Alliance, Cambridge
Harvard Medical School, Boston
Massachusetts

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: There has never been a study that combined maternal and pediatric health outcomes and costs into a single model. My colleague Arnold Reinhold and I had published a pediatric study in 2010, which was widely publicized but needed to be updated. My colleagues and I published a maternal study in 2013. But the two studies had different methodologies, and so the total costs could not be simply added together.

Here, we wanted to get a picture of the impact of breastfeeding in the US public health as whole, by creating a single model that combined maternal and pediatric outcomes. That had never been done before.

Continue reading

Women With Migraine At Increased Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Prof. Dr. Dr. Tobias Kurth Professor of Public Health and Epidemiology and Director of the Institut of Public Health, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany. Co-director, Centre Virchow-Villermé, for Public Health Paris – Berlin, Campus Berlin. Adjunct Associate Epidemiologist, Division of Preventive Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.

Dr. Tobias Kurth

Prof. Dr. Dr. Tobias Kurth
Professor of Public Health and Epidemiology and Director of the Institut of Public Health, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany.
Co-director, Centre Virchow-Villermé, for Public Health Paris – Berlin, Campus Berlin.
Adjunct Associate Epidemiologist, Division of Preventive Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Kurth: Migraine has been consistently associated with increased risk of stroke. Associations with other (non-stroke) Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) was less clear.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Dr. Kurth: Women with migraine are at increased risk of any CVD event, including Myocardial infarction, stroke and cardivoascular death.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Kurth:  We do not yet understand the mechanism of this association and strong efforts are needed to find solution to reduce the increased risk.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Dr. Kurth: I am aware of the importance of the finding but we hope to not scare patients with migraine. Nevertheless, women with migraine should be evaluated for their vascular risk.

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.

Citation:

Kurth Tobias, Winter Anke C, Eliassen A Heather,Dushkes Rimma, Mukamal Kenneth J, Rimm Eric Bet al. Migraine and risk of cardiovascular disease in women: prospective cohort study

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

More Medical Research Interviews on MedicalResearch.com.

Inflammatory Biomarkers Predictive of Coronary Artery Calcium in Women at Midlife

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Norman C. Wang, M.D., M.S., Assistant professor
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
Samar R. El Khoudary, Ph.D., M.P.H.,
Assistant professor of Epidemiology
University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: We studied 252 middle-aged women with no known cardiovascular disease from the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation [SWAN] Heart Study to determine if 5 blood biomarkers associated with abnormal inflammation/hemostasis were associated with increasing amounts of calcium detected in coronary arteries on computed tomography scans, or coronary artery calcium progression. Only higher blood levels of plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 was associated with coronary artery calcium progression.

Continue reading

Inflammatory Biomarker CRP Linked To Heart Disease Risk in African American Women

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Norman C. Wang, M.D., M.S., Assistant professor
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
Samar R. El Khoudary, Ph.D., M.P.H.,
Assistant professor of Epidemiology
University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: We examined medical records, blood samples and heart CT scans for 372 black and white women from Pittsburgh and Chicago enrolled in the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN). The women averaged just over 51 years old, were not on hormone replacement therapy and had no known heart disease when enrolled. We then looked at blood levels of five biomarkers linked to inflammation. All of the biomarkers were associated with coronary artery calcification, a predictor of heart disease that is measured with a heart CT scan.

Taking into account the participants’ body mass index (BMI), a measure of overall body fat, we found that obesity was a key factor linking most of the elevated inflammation biomarkers and coronary artery calcification. Regardless of BMI, black women with higher levels of one particular biomarker, C-reactive protein, were more likely to have coronary artery calcification than whites. In fact, black women with coronary artery calcification had an average level of C-reactive protein in their blood that was almost double that of their white counterparts.

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Women May Overestimate Breast Cancer Risk, Underestimate Obesity, Heart Disease Risks

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Julie M. Kapp, MPH, PhD Associate Professor 2014 Baldrige Executive Fellow University of Missouri School of Medicine Department of Health Management and Informatics Columbia, MO 65212

Dr. Kapp

Julie M. Kapp, MPH, PhD
Associate Professor
2014 Baldrige Executive Fellow
University of Missouri School of Medicine
Department of Health Management and Informatics
Columbia, MO 65212

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Kapp: For the past several decades the U.S. has had the highest obesity rate compared to high-income peer countries, and for many years people in the U.S. have had a shorter life expectancy. For female life expectancy at birth, the U.S. ranked second to last. At the same time, the U.S. has the third highest rate of mammography screening among peer countries, and the pink ribbon is one of the most widely recognized symbols in the U.S. While the death rate in females for coronary heart disease is significantly higher than that for breast cancer, at 1 in 7.2 deaths compared to 1 in 30, respectively, women have higher levels of worry for getting breast cancer.

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Four Reasons Why Women Receive Fewer Statins Than Men For Heart Disease

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Alexander Turchin, MD, MS Associate Physician, Brigham and Women's Hospital Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School Brigham and Women's Hospital Department of Medicine Endocrinology Boston, MA 02115

Dr. Alexander Turchin

Alexander Turchin, MD, MS
Associate Physician, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Department of Medicine
Endocrinology
Boston, MA 02115 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Turchin: It is known that fewer women than men at high risk for cardiovascular disease are treated with statins.

However, the reasons for this sex disparity are not fully understood.

Our study identified 4 factors that accounted for over 90% of the difference in statin therapy between women and men with coronary artery disease:

  • Age (women were older than men),
  • Amoking (men were more likely to smoke),
  • Evaluation by a cardiologist (men were more likely to have been seen by a cardiologist) and
  • History of adverse reactions to statins (women were more likely to have experienced an adverse reaction).

    This is the first time that a near-complete explanation for the sex disparities in statin therapy was found.

Continue reading

Gender Differences in Stress Test and CT Angiography in Patients with Suspected CAD

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Neha J. Pagidipati
Duke Clinical Research Institute
Duke University School of Medicine
Durham, North Carolina

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Pagidipati: Women and men experience coronary artery disease differently, and a great deal of literature has shown that these differences extend to the diagnostic performance of various noninvasive testing modalities. However, little is known about the sex-specific prognostic value of computed tomographic angiography (CTA) and functional stress testing.

We used data from the recent PROMISE trial to address this question. The PROMISE trial enrolled 10,003 patients (53% women) with stable symptoms suggestive of coronary artery disease to a diagnostic strategy of CTA vs stress testing, and found no differences in outcomes overall or by sex. We found that in women, a CTA is less likely to be positive, but when it is positive, it appears to have greater predictive value for a future cardiovascular event (all cause death, myocardial infarction, or unstable angina hospitalization) than stress testing. In men, a stress test is less likely to be positive, and though stress testing trended towards being more predictive of future events, there was no statistically significant difference in the prognostic value of either test type.

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Women With Obstructive Coronary Artery Disease Have Higher Mortality Than Men

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Nathaniel Smilowitz, MD
Fellow, Cardiovascular Disease
NYU Langone Medical Center

MeicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Smilowitz: Myocardial infarction (MI), commonly known as a heart attack, is a leading cause of death worldwide.  In the majority of patients with MI, examination of the coronary blood vessels by angiography reveals an obstruction that limits blood flow to the heart muscle.  However, some patients develop MI with non-obstructive coronary arteries (MINOCA) at angiography.  This condition is identified more commonly in younger patients and women, and in prior studies, in-hospital death after MINOCA was lower than for MI with obstructive coronary artery disease (MI-CAD).  Despite favorable outcomes associated with MINOCA, young women paradoxically have overall higher in-hospital death after MI in comparison to younger men.  Although sex differences in post-MI mortality are known to vary with age, the interaction between age, sex, and the presence of obstructive coronary artery disease at angiography on death post-MI had not been previously established.

In this study, we confirmed that in-hospital mortality is lower after MINOCA than MI-CAD and that women are more likely to have MINOCA than men.  No sex difference in mortality was observed among patients with MINOCA, but women of all ages had significantly higher mortality after MI-CAD than men.  With advancing age, mortality increased to a greater degree in patients with MI-CAD than MINOCA and in men vs. women.

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Regardless of Ethnicity, Women Have Worse Outcomes From Acute Coronary Syndromes

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Karin H Humphries, MBA, DSc | Scientific Director BC Centre for Improved Cardiovascular Health UBC-HSF Professor in Women's Cardiovascular Health Vancouver, BC

Karin Humphries

Karin H Humphries, MBA, DSc | Scientific Director
BC Centre for Improved Cardiovascular Health
UBC-HSF Professor in Women’s Cardiovascular Health
Vancouver, BC

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Response: Prior studies have shown that among patients with obstructive coronary artery disease (CAD), women have higher short- and long-term mortality rates as compared to men. Furthermore, a few studies have highlighted the existence of ethnic differences in the incidence of acute myocardial infarction (AMI) and outcomes following an AMI event. However, the joint contribution of sex and ethnicity on outcomes of patients with obstructive  coronary artery disease remains unknown.

Our primary objective was to extend these findings by examining the joint impact of sex and ethnicity on long-term adverse outcomes of all patients with angiographic evidence of obstructive CAD presenting with myocardial ischemia.

Our study included a population-based cohort of patients ≥ 20 years of age who underwent coronary angiography for acute coronary syndromes (ACS) or stable angina in British Columbia, Canada with angiographic evidence of ≥ 50% stenosis in any epicardial artery.

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Symptoms of Anxiety and Heart Disease May Overlap in Women

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Kim Lavoie

Dr.Kim Lavoie

Dr. Kim Lavoie, Ph.D.
CIHR New Investigator, FRQS Chercheur-Boursier Co-Director,
Montreal Behavioural Medicine Centre
Professor, Dept. of Psychology University of Quebec at Montreal Director, Chronic Disease Research Division, Hôpital du Sacré-Coeur de Montreal Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Medicine, University of Montreal
Associate Researcher, Montreal Heart Institute
Chair, Health Psychology and Behavioral Medicine Section
Canadian Psychological Association
 

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Lavoie: We were interested in looking at whether rates of ischemia in men and women were different as a function of whether or not you had pre-existing heart disease (we would expect those with existing heart disease to have more ischemia because it’s a major marker of disease) or a comorbid anxiety or mood disorder (we expected anx/mood disorders would be associated with higher rates of ischemia because they reflect clinical levels of chronic stress, which has been linked to higher rates of ischemia in previous studies).

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

Dr. Lavoie: Overall, we found that men have higher rates of ischemia than women, and that anxiety or mood disorders overall aren’t associated with higher or lower risk of ischemia (in those with or without previously diagnosed heart disease).

HOWEVER, what we did find that was interesting and perhaps new, was that if you looked within women, those without previously diagnosed heart disease AND anxiety disorders (which including things like panic disorder and generalized anxiety – panickers and worriers) had higher rates of ischemia compared to those without anxiety disorders. This suggests higher rates of ischemia among women without heart disease, which seems counter-intuitive because you would expect those WITH disease to have more ischemia. The fact that anxiety disorders were present in those without previously diagnosed heart disease – and they were the ones with more ischemia, suggests that these women likely HAD heart disease that just hadn’t been diagnosed up yet, and that the reason might have been because of their anxiety disorder, which can mask many symptoms of heart disease because many of them overlap (e.g., fatigue, decreased energy, heart palpitations, sweating, chest discomfort, hyperventilation, and fear/worry). This could lead physicians to misinterpret symptoms of real heart disease as those of anxiety – but this only appears to be the case in women according to our study, suggesting a possible sex/gender bias here.

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Multiple Pregnancies May Raise Metabolic Syndrome Risk in Latina Women

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Catherine J. Vladutiu, PhD, MPH Research Assistant Professor, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Epidemiology Chapel Hill, NC

Dr. Catherine Vladutiu

Catherine J. Vladutiu, PhD, MPH
Research Assistant Professor, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Epidemiology
Chapel Hill, NC

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Vladutiu: During pregnancy, women experience physiological changes and are at risk of pregnancy-related complications, some of which are associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular health outcomes in later life.  Physiologic adaptations occurring across successive pregnancies may be associated with an even higher risk of adverse cardiovascular outcomes. Previous studies have found an association between higher parity (i.e., number of live births) and the metabolic syndrome (MetS). However, no studies have examined this association in a Hispanic/Latina population. Hispanic women have a higher prevalence of the MetS than non-Hispanic women.  Latinos are also the fastest growing minority population in the U.S. and Hispanic/Latina women report higher fertility and birth rates than their non-Hispanic counterparts.

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CVD Risk in Women Also Raises Risk of Diabetes, Hypertension and High Cholesterol

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Mercedes Sotos Prieto, PhD Research Associate, Department of Nutrition Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health 665 Huntington Ave Boston, MA, 02115

Dr. Mercedes Sotos Prieto

Mercedes Sotos Prieto, PhD
Research Associate, Department of Nutrition
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Boston, MA, 02115

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Sotos-Prieto: Given that CVD remains the leading cause of death in the US, the prevention of risk factor development through healthy lifestyle factors, or primordial prevention, is of paramount importance to minimize the long-term risk of CVD. However, the prevalence of these healthy behaviors among US adults remains low.

The Healthy Heart Score is a 20-year CVD risk prediction model based on modifiable lifestyle factors and we have shown previously that this score effectively predicted the 20-year risk of CVD in mid-adulthood. Whether this risk score is associated with clinically-relevant CVD risk factors is unknown. Therefore, in this study we analyzed the association between the Healthy Heart Score and incidence of clinical CVD risk factors, including diabetes, hypertension, and hypercholesterolemia among 69,505 U.S women in the Nurses’ Health Study II during 20 years of follow-up. The Healthy Heart Score is based on the 9 most critical lifestyle factors that best estimate CVD risk including: current smoking, higher BMI, low physical activity, lack of moderate alcohol consumption, low intakes of fruits, vegetables, cereal fiber, and nuts, and high intakes of sugar-sweetened beverages and red and processed meats. The Healthy Heart Score estimates the 20 –year CVD risk, thus a higher score reflected a higher predictive CVD risk. Over 20 years, we documented 3,275 incident cases of diabetes, 17,420 of hypertension, and 24,385 of hypercholesterolemia.

Our main findings showed that women with higher predicted CVD risk based on the Healthy Heart Score (highest quintile vs. lowest) had significantly greater risk of developing each clinical risk factor individually. Specifically, women with a higher predictive CVD risk had an 18-fold higher risk of type 2 diabetes, 5-fold higher risk of hypertension, and 3-fold higher risk of hypercholesterolemia over 20-years. Further, a higher predictive CVD risk was associated with a 53-fold greater risk of developing a high CVD risk profile (defined as the diagnosis of all 3 clinical risk factors) and this association was most pronounced among women who were younger, did not smoke, and had optimal weight

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Young Women With CAD Need Repeat Procedures More Often Than Men

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Robert L. Wilensky MD Director, Interventional Cardiology Research Director, Interventional Cardiology Training Program Professor of Medicine Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Robert Wilensky

Dr. Robert L. Wilensky MD
Director, Interventional Cardiology Research
Director, Interventional Cardiology Training Program
Professor of Medicine Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Wilensky: We wanted to evaluate whether young women, under the age of 50 years, had an increased risk for recurrent ischemic events after percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) compared to young men or older women.

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

 Dr. Wilensky: Despite having less severe coronary artery disease,  had an increased risk of repeated events, generally need for repeat PCI in either the exact location of the original procedure or within the artery that underwent the procedure. This despite the finding that young women were treated with the same medications as young men.

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Group Urges Focus on Non-Communicable Diseases in Women

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Professor Robyn Norton Principal Director of The George Institute for Global Health Board Member, The George Institute for Global Health Professor of Public Health at the University of Sydney Professor of Global Health at the University of OxfordProfessor Robyn Norton
Principal Director of The George Institute for Global Health
Board Member, The George Institute for Global Health
Professor of Public Health at the University of Sydney
Professor of Global Health at the University of Oxford

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Prof. Norton: The impetus to focus on women’s health, stems from the knowledge that, while noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are the leading cause of death and disability for women worldwide, this is not sufficiently recognized nor sufficiently resourced. Equally, while there is increasing evidence that we can learn so much more about how to address the burden of disease for women, by collecting and analyzing data on women, separately to that for men, this is not happening.

We are calling for a refocus of the women’s health agenda on NCDs – given that globally and in many countries the focus of women’s health almost exclusively is still on women’s sexual and reproductive health. The fact is that in all but the poorest countries, the greatest health burden, for women, is  noncommunicable diseases and so that if we are to make significant gains in improving women’s health then we must focus on addressing NCDs. The current global burden of disease for women reflects both the significant gains that have been made as a result of addressing maternal mortality and changes that have affected both women and men equally – namely, that populations are living longer, as a consequence of reductions in both infant mortality and communicable diseases, as well as the fact that populations are becoming wealthier and, as a result, are engaging in behaviors that increase the risk of noncommunicable diseases.

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Women Adhere Poorly to Cardiac Rehabilitation Programs, Regardless of Type

Sherry L. Grace, PhD Senior Scientist, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute (TRI) Affiliate Scientist, Toronto General Research Institute (TGRI)

Dr. Sherry Grace

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Sherry L. Grace, PhD
Professor, York University
Senior Scientist, University Health Network
University of Toronto

MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Grace: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality for women world-wide. Cardiac rehabilitation (CR) is an outpatient secondary prevention program composed of structured exercise and comprehensive education and counseling.Cardiac rehabilitation participation results in lower morbidity and mortality, among other benefits. Unfortunately, women are significantly less likely to adhere to these programs than men.

While the traditional model of Cardiac rehabilitation care is a hospital-based mixed-sex program, women are the minority in such programs, and state that these programs do not meet their care preferences. Two other models of CR care have been developed: hospital-based women-only (sex-specific) and monitored home-based programs. Women’s adherence to these program models is not well known.

Cardiac Rehabilitation for her Heart Event Recovery (CR4HER) was a 3 parallel arm pragmatic randomized controlled trial‎ (RCT) designed to compare women’s program adherence to traditional hospital-based CR with males and females attending (mixed-sex), home-based CR (bi-weekly phone calls), and women-only hospital-based CR. The primary outcome was program adherence operationalized as  Cardiac rehabilitation site-reported percentage of prescribed sessions completed by phone or on-site, as reported by a staff member who was blind to study objectives. The secondary outcomes included functional capacity. It was hoped that by identifying the CR program model which resulted in the greatest adherence for women, their participation and potentially their cardiac outcomes could be optimized.

MedicalResearch: What are the main findings?

Dr. Grace: Similar to previous research, we found that women did not adhere very highly to the  Cardiac rehabilitation programs. Half of the women dropped out of CR, and this occurred regardless of the type of program they went to. Some women did not even start Cardiac rehabilitation at all, even though we had referred them.

On average, the women went to just over half the sessions (at the CR centre or on the phone; they were prescribed a median of 24 sessions). If we consider only the women who actually started CR, they attended almost 2/3rds of prescribed CR sessions.

Women experienced gains in their exercise capacity over the course of CR participation. Attending the traditional co-ed program was associated with the greatest exercise capacity. This could be due to the fact that the staff push them to exercise at their target levels when they are in a supervised program.

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