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Angina in Women

Angina PectorisAngina means chest pain, but specifically cardiac chest pain. Women have lower risks of coronary disease, especially prior to menopause.  However, cardiovascular disease is still the leading cause of death in women.


Angina is a term to describe the sensation felt when there isn’t enough blood flow to the heart itself. Typically, we think of this a intense, center to left-sided pain that is triggered by activity and relieved with rest. Women, however, have less typical symptoms. Less than 60% of women having heart attacks will have a main complaint of chest pain. They more often complain of shortness of breath, fatigue, and/or generalized weakness.


Diagnostic Tests

Diagnostic testing for angina is similar for men and women and includes:


Treatment depends on the severity. There are medications that control angina, but if symptoms are very severe or are caused by a heart attack, an angiogram (picture of blood vessels) is often needed. If an artery is severely blocked (more than 70%), it can be fixed with an angioplasty, stent, or bypass surgery.

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