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Heart disease, No. 1 killer, can sneak up on women

Jul 5th, 2011 - Health News

WASHINGTON (AP) — A new report says there's been too little progress in tackling how the symptoms of heart disease differ in men and women.

Some symptoms of heart disease in women don't show up in standard cardiac tests. And women are more likely to die in the year after a first heart attack.

Emory University cardiologist Dr. Nanette Wenger, who co-wrote the report, says while overall deaths in men have been dropping in recent years, the improvement has been slower in women.

Wenger says even if a test of major arteries finds no blockages in at-risk women, they still can suffer from coronary microvascular disease, which is less common in men.

Small blood vessels that feed the heart become damaged, and they spasm or squeeze shut. Wenger says it's not clear what the best treatments are for the disease.

She says part of the reason for such a lack of understanding is because heart-related studies still don't focus enough on women.

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