Dr. Smolens explains why women and men are offered different treatment options for heart disease. Dr. Iva Smolens treats mostly women's heart conditions at Banner Heart Hospital in Mesa, Arizona.
Some of the other differences between men and women have less to do with how they present, but also how they are treated. Women, once they get evaluated, do not necessarily get offered the same treatment methods as men. Women tend to, according to the literature, get offered less frequently stress testing, interventional treatment in the form of angiography and stenting, and even bypass surgery.
And many people have often questioned or queried why this is the case, and I think a number of reasons play into this. Women present at about ten years older than men with their heart disease. Women also tend to present later in their disease course, and a lot of people speculate that that maybe women are more reticent or reluctant to present and their symptoms are different and they are not always recognized.
And so then, when women do present and they are sicker and older, they get offered less treatment and then that spells out to worse outcomes from women. And that’s probably why women actually have surpassed men in terms of mortality from heart disease at this point. And I think those are very important things for us to pay heed to so that we can break that cycle and help women get the treatment that they need earlier.
Women also tend to be the caregivers in a family unit and it’s a lot harder for women to allow themselves to be cared for for something as serious as heart disease. And factoring into this, many more women have depression following an episode of a heart attack or even open-heart surgery, and depression certainly factors in negatively to their recovery. That’s also why women do poorly after open-heart surgery and after interventions.
About Dr. Smolens, M.D.:
Board Certified Cardiothoracic Surgeon Iva Smolens, M.D., serves as medical director of the Women's Heart Center at Banner Heart Hospital in Mesa, Arizona. She currently serves on the American Heart Association’s Board of Directors for the Phoenix metropolitan area.
Condition: Heart Attack, Heart Palpitation, Heart Disease
Related Terms: Chest Pain, Stress Test, High Blood Pressure, HDL, LDL, Body Mass Index, Cardiovascular Exercise, Angiography, Stent, Heart Bypass Surgery, Open Heart Surgery, Vascular Disease, EKG
Expert: Dr. Iva Smolens, Iva Smolens, M.D., Doctor Iva Smolens, Cardiologist Iva Smolens
Expertise: Cardiology, Heart Specialist, Heart Disease, Cardiovascular Disease, Coronary Artery Disease, Heart Attack, Heart Palpitation