About 30% of women experience microvascular dysfunction, or small vessel disease, resulting in repeat hospital visits and increased health care costs. When women with typical cardiac symptoms experienced chest pain (angina), studies found that these women actually showed atypical symptoms of heart and vascular disease in spite of routine tests.
Typically, ischemia, a syndrome in which the blood flow of an artery is reduced and causes cramping of the heart muscle, is suggested to be caused by microvascular dysfunction. This alone is difficult to diagnose by cardiac catheterization since small vessels are not visualized. If symptoms such as cardiac and chest pain are left alone or untreated, then female patients could face more adverse outcomes over time.
About 30% of women are affected by ischemia syndrome, resulting in repeat hospitalizations and increased health care costs. The Women’s Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation (WISE) study found that chest pain or angina can occur in the presence of normal epicardial coronary vessels due to microvascular dysfunction, meaning that women who appear to be clear of cardiac dysfunction on routine tests do not necessarily have normal vascular function. Rather, the female patient may continue to exhibit symptoms such as cardiac or chest pain that could potentially result in more adverse outcomes if left alone and untreated.
Typically, ischemic heart disease in women is difficult to diagnose by cardiac catheterization alone since small vessels are not visualized. The WISE study offered at our Women’s Cardiac and Chest Pain Clinic allows our physicians to evaluate diagnostic methods while continuing to improve the reliability of cardiovascular testing in the evaluation of ischemic heart disease in women.
At present, there are no proven therapies that exist, and ischemic heart disease remains largely a diagnosis of exclusion. But with the advent of 3T Cardiac MRI and P31 Spectroscopy, patients can now be diagnosed at an earlier time.
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To make an appointment, please call us toll free at (888) 558-2713. For more information, email the Women's Cardiac & Chest Pain Clinic. Referring physicians, please fax your request to (909) 835-1229. In the event of an emergency, call 911.