In a new study, researchers have developed a new way to help detect heart attacks in women age 55 and younger.
The research was conducted by a team from Women’s Health Research at Yale University.
Forty-thousand women in the U.S. are hospitalized each year due to heart attacks, and women are more likely to die following one.
Previous research has shown that women age 55 and younger are less likely to show the classic symptoms of a heart attack.
The underlying mechanisms of a heart attack commonly found in men are less clear in women. This could make many women at great risks and not properly diagnosed.
In the new study, the team developed a sex-specific classification system.
The system can help define and categorize types of heart attacks that are more common for women.
This enables the researchers to produce a more accurate guide to treatment and prognosis.
In the study, the team examined the medical records of women 55 years old and younger who were diagnosed with a heart attack.
They examined measurable cardiac symptoms and blood tests in these women.
They also tested the type of heart attack in the women using cardiac catheterization, a procedure that could visualize the flow of blood to the heart for signs of obstruction.
The researchers then used applied the data to the current classification system, known as the Fourth Universal Definition of MI, and a recently developed new system called The VIRGO (Variation in Recovery: Role of Gender on Outcomes of Young AMI Patients) Taxonomy.
They found that about 16% of women who had a heart attack could not be classified accurately with the traditional Universal Definition.
The system could not distinguish some mechanisms of a heart attack that are more common in younger women.
In addition, many women with a heart attack have no evidence of blockages in the arteries and are therefore not identified in the traditional classification system.
These non-classic heart attacks are undiagnosed and untreated, which can strongly harm women’s health.
On the contrary, the VIRGO system could successfully classify nearly all heart attack patients by distinguishing the unique but common mechanisms of a heart attack in younger women.
The findings suggest that it is important to use a more nuanced classification system in routine clinical practice to diagnose heart attacks in women.
The senior author of the study is Dr. Erica Spatz, an associate professor of cardiology at Yale.
The study is published in The International Journal of Cardiology.
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