Many women suffer from a form of heart disease that is fundamentally different from the type that strikes most men and is easily missed by standard tests, researchers reported yesterday. Instead of developing obvious blockages in the arteries supplying blood to the heart, these women accumulate plaque more evenly inside the major arteries and in smaller blood vessels, the researchers found. In other cases, their arteries fail to expand properly or go into spasm, often at times of physical or emotional stress. These abnormalities, which appear to be particularly common in younger women, can be as dangerous as the better-known form of the disease, strangling vital blood flow to the heart muscle, causing severe and sometimes debilitating pain and fatigue, and sometimes triggering life-threatening heart attacks, the researchers found. The findings may help explain why some women suddenly have heart attacks even though their arteries look clear, in some cases leading doctors to send them home without treatment or refer them to psychiatrists. Their symptoms are often unusual: Instead of the classic crushing chest pain, sweating and shortness of breath, they often complain of vague symptoms — fatigue, an upset stomach, or pain in the jaw or […]

Read the Full Article