Cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains the leading cause of death among women. Important sex differences in CVD risk factors, pathophysiology, presenting symptoms, treatment, preventive strategies and outcomes are increasingly recognised. More focus on female-specific features of CVD might help the development of targeted therapeutic interventions for both primary and secondary prevention in women.
- Chest pain is the most common symptom of an acute coronary syndrome in both women and men.
- Women with acute coronary syndromes have more associated symptoms (fatigue, breathlessness, nausea, dizziness and abdominal discomfort), which may distract from the diagnosis.
- The traditional cardiovascular risk factors of diabetes, smoking and inactivity increase the risk of cardiovascular disease in women more than they do in men.
- Women can have nontraditional cardiovascular risk factors such as gestational diabetes, gestational hypertension, pre-eclampsia and polycystic ovary syndrome.
- Women are less likely to receive guideline-directed treatment for primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease.