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World J Biol Psychiatry. 2008;9(2):92-101.

Women with coronary artery disease and depression: a neglected risk group.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany.


Coronary artery disease (CAD) has been held to be a "male" disease due to men's higher absolute risk compared to women, but the relative risk of women for CAD morbidity and mortality is actually higher. The purpose of this article is to review research evidence for gender differences in CAD and depression with special emphasis on women. Current knowledge points to important gender differences in age of onset, symptom presentation, management, outcome as well as traditional and psychosocial risk factors. Compared to men, CAD risk in women is more strongly increased by some traditional factors (diabetes, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, obesity), and socioeconomic and psychosocial factors seem to have a higher impact on CAD in women as well. With respect to differences in CAD management, a gender-bias in favour of men has to be taken into account in spite of older age and higher comorbidity in women, possibly contributing to a poorer outcome. Depression was shown to be an independent risk factor and consequence of CAD; however, concerning gender differences, the results have been inconsistent. Current evidence suggests that depression causes a greater increase in CAD incidence in women, and that female CAD patients experience higher levels of depression than men. Gender aspects should be more intensively considered both in further research on gender differences in comorbid depression and in cardiac treatment and rehabilitation with the goal of making secondary prevention for women more effective.

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