Differences in Vascular Disease for Women

In 2012, the American Heart Association and the Vascular Disease Foundation collaborated to commission a statement on gender differences in peripheral artery disease (PAD) and issued a call to action to the scientific community to further research on the differences in PAD for men and women. The publication was intended to achieve the following:

  1. Urge healthcare professionals to use the current vascular review of symptoms, physical examination, and diagnostic testing pathways to ensure that the PAD diagnosis is promptly established in women “at risk” for having undiagnosed PAD
  2. Urge individual clinicians and women’s cardiovascular health programs to incorporate PAD-specific risk messages in their current and future cardiovascular outreach efforts that are targeted to women
  3. Clarify the potential role of women in facilitating improved national PAD awareness, as has occurred for other cardiovascular diseases (CVDs)
  4. Promote the translation of the successful “Go Red for Women” and Heart Truth campaigns for coronary artery disease (CAD) awareness as models to achieve comparable success for PAD

Since that time, there has been some additional focus on cardiovascular disease in women. For example, in September 2012, the Women’s Heart Program at Atlantic Health System in New Jersey launched a women-specific program for cardiovascular disease in which women can participate in research. While this contributes to the overal data set for  cardiovascular disease in women, it does not specifically address peripheral vascular conditions for women.

This month, however, a study was published that specifically addresses risks and symptoms for women with PAD. UC Davis used its PAD-UCD registry to study data on 219 patients (97 women and 122 men) with critical limb ischemia who received peripheral angiography and subsequent treatment, such as endovascular intervention, surgical bypass grafting, or amputation, between 2006 and 2010. They found that women had much higher rates of adverse events, yet didn’t have the common risks associated with those outcomes.

“Our study provides a good start toward eliminating gender bias in PAD identification and treatment and reducing missed opportunities to improve health for women,” lead author Caroline McCoach, a chief resident in the UC Davis Department of Internal Medicine, said in the press release.

See “Women With Advanced Vascular Disease Have More Complications but Not Common Risks” for more on the study.


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