The Canadian Women’s Heart Health Alliance Atlas on the Epidemiology, Diagnosis, and Management of Cardiovascular Disease in Women — Chapter 6: Sex- and Gender-Specific Diagnosis and Treatment Academic Article uri icon

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  • This chapter summarizes the sex- and gender-specific diagnosis and treatment of acute/unstable presentations and nacute/stable presentations of cardiovascular disease in women. Guidelines, scientific statements, systematic reviews/meta-analyses, and primary research studies related to diagnosis and treatment of coronary artery disease, cerebrovascular disease (stroke), valvular heart disease, and heart failure in women were reviewed. The evidence is summarized as a narrative, and when available, sex- and gender-specific practice and research recommendations are provided. Acute coronary syndrome presentations and emergency department delays are different in women than they are in men. Coronary angiography remains the gold-standard test for diagnosis of obstructive coronary artery disease. Other diagnostic imaging modalities for ischemic heart disease detection (eg, positron emission tomography, echocardiography, single-photon emission computed tomography, cardiovascular magnetic resonance, coronary computed tomography angiography) have been shown to be useful in women, with their selection dependent upon both the goal of the individualized assessment and the testing resources available. Noncontrast computed tomography and computed tomography angiography are used to diagnose stroke in women. Although sex-specific differences appear to exist in the efficacy of standard treatments for diverse presentations of acute coronary syndrome, many cardiovascular drugs and interventions tested in clinical trials were not powered to detect sex-specific differences, and knowledge gaps remain. Similarly, although knowledge is evolving about sex-specific difference in the management of valvular heart disease, and heart failure with both reduced and preserved ejection fraction, current guidelines are lacking in sex-specific recommendations, and more research is needed.


  • Parry, Monica
  • Van Spall, Harriette
  • Mullen, Kerri-Anne
  • Mulvagh, Sharon L
  • Pacheco, Christine
  • Colella, Tracey JF
  • Clavel, Marie-Annick
  • Jaffer, Shahin
  • Foulds, Heather JA
  • Grewal, Jasmine
  • Hardy, Marsha
  • Price, Jennifer AD
  • Levinsson, Anna LE
  • Gonsalves, Christine A
  • Norris, Colleen M

publication date

  • July 2022