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J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2004 Jul-Aug;13(6):695-702.

Does hormonal status influence the clinical presentation of acute coronary syndromes in women?

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Quebec Heart Institute/Laval Hospital, 2725 Chemin Ste-Foy, Ste-Foy, Quebec, Canada G1V 4G5.



Previous studies suggest that the clinical presentation of acute coronary syndromes (ACS) may differ between women and men. It is not known if different clinical presentations may be explained by hormonal status in women with ACS. Our objective was to compare the clinical presentation of ACS between premenopausal (PRE) women and post-menopausal women with hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and without (POST).


This was a prospective study of consecutive women admitted with a diagnosis of ACS (myocardial infarction [MI] or unstable angina). All women answered a detailed questionnaire that included a list of 27 clinical symptoms. Symptom results were adjusted for age and current coronary event diagnosis.


Seventy-three Caucasian women were studied. No differences were found in terms of the frequency of reported typical symptoms of ACS between PRE (n = 23), HRT (n = 32), and POST (n = 18). However, PRE more often reported atypical chest symptoms than HRT and POST women (57% vs. 31% vs. 22%, PRE vs. HRT vs. POST, respectively, p = 0.05). HRT and POST women experienced substernal chest pain more frequently than PRE (44% vs. 78% vs. 83%, p = 0.03). In contrast, PRE more frequently tended to experience chest pressure (57% vs. 31% vs. 39%, p = 0.2) or chest pain in other locations (22% vs. 3% vs. 6%, p = 0.06). HRT and POST groups reported more frequent indigestion-like pain/discomfort (22% vs. 50% vs. 56%, p = 0.04) and midback pain (35% vs. 63% vs. 72%, p = 0.04) during ACS compared with PRE women. POST experienced sudden fatigue more frequently than PRE and HRT (61% vs. 53% vs. 89%, p = 0.03).


Our results suggest that almost all women admitted with ACS experienced typical chest symptoms but frequently reported both typical and atypical symptoms. Independently of age, atypical chest symptoms occurred more frequently in premenopausal women than in postmenopausal women with or without HRT.

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