Diseases of the heart or blood vessels, known as cardiovascular diseases, cause more deaths among American women than any other condition or disease, a new report issued by Women Heart, entitled “2011 – 10Q Report. Advancing Women’s Heart Health through Improved Research, Diagnosis and Treatment” announced today. Cardiovascular diseases kill over 420,000 American women annually.

While approximately 4% of women are expected to die from breast cancer, nearly 50% will die from heart disease or stroke, the authors wrote.

More females than males die from cardiovascular disease. There are some differences in symptoms and treatments for these types of diseases between the sexes, experts say. However, there has been no significant change in how women are treated. Research into the different characteristics and treatments for males and females with CVD (cardiovascular disease) has been very limited.

Even though overall death rates from CVD have dropped in recent years, mortality from CVD among women under 55 years of age has risen.

Carrying out sex, race or ethnicity specific CVD trials have been difficult because not enough females and minorities were recruited. This has resulted in inadequate understanding of sex differences in CVD. If more women and minority participants could be recruited into CVD trials, prevention and early detection strategies, as well as proper diagnosis and treatment of all females with heart disease would improve considerably, the authors wrote.

Only about 30% of all cardiovascular trials include sex-specific results, even though the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) regulations require sex stratification.

In 2006, WomenHeart and the Society for Women’s Health Research (SWHR) got together to address the women’s heart health issue.

Together with cardiovascular experts, the two organizations identified 10 unanswered questions regarding research on treatment, diagnosis and prevention of heart disease in females.

The ten questions are: (direct quote)

“What factors influence or explain disparities in cardiovascular disease epidemiology and disease outcomes between men and women?”

“What are the best strategies to assess, modify, and prevent a woman’s risk of heart disease?”

“What are the most accurate and effective approaches to assess and recognize chest pain and other symptoms suggesting coronary heart disease in women?”

“What role does a woman’s reproductive history and menopausal hormone therapy play in the development of heart disease?”

“What are the risk factors for cardiovascular disorders associated with pregnancy and how are they best treated?”

“What is the best method for studying sex differences in vascular injury so that cardiovascular repair therapies may be improved?”

“What are the most effective treatments for diastolic heart failure (heart failure with preserved pumping function of the heart) in women?”

“Why are young women more likely than men to die after a heart attack or after surgical revascularization procedure?”

“How do psychosocial factors affect cardiovascular disease in women?”

“What biological variables are most influential in the development and clinical outcomes of heart disease and what can be done to reduce mortality rates in women?”

The answers to these questions can be viewed in the full report (below).

“2011 – 10Q Report. Advancing Women’s Heart Health through Improved Research, Diagnosis and Treatment”

Written by Christian Nordqvist