The most frequent cause of death among women in the United States is coronary heart disease, which claims 200,000 lives a year. The prognosis with either medical or surgical therapy is worse in females than in males. The following significant gender differences have been observed and reported: (1) the rate of early death following acute myocardial infarction is greater in women, (2) the difference between sexes remains whether or not thrombolytic therapy is used, and (3) the hospital mortality rate following coronary angioplasty, atherectomy, or bypass surgery is greater in females. The reasons for these gender differences are not clearly understood. Nevertheless, awareness of the higher morbidity and mortality in women dictates the need for early detection and more aggressive therapy of the risk factors. However, diabetes mellitus and essential hypertension are 2 well-established major risk factors for coronary disease and stroke that are more prevalent in the female gender. These 2 risk factors are cumulative and require more intensive and aggressive therapy to prevent acute vascular events, and therefore early detection is mandatory.

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