Women who suffer from angina face the greater risk of developing severe coronary artery disease (CAD) compared to men, state researchers in Canada.
The researchers looked at the records of 23,771 patients referred for first diagnostic angiography over a six-year period.
They found that women over the age of 60 with CCS Class IV angina (as defined by the Canadian Cardiovascular Society) faced a 21 percent higher absolute risk of developing CAD than men.
The trend was robust, even in younger women under 60, who faced an 11 percent higher absolute risk than men in the same age group.
However, when the data was adjusted for other variables commonly associated with CAD - diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking and age - Class IV angina increased the risk by 82 percent in women and 28 percent in men.
That means that women with severe angina face a three times greater risk of developing severe CAD than men.
"CAD is the leading cause of ill health and death in men and women in the western world, accounting for over a third of deaths" says lead author Catherine Kreatsoulas from the Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at McMaster University, Canada.
"In fact, more women die from CAD than breast disease every year. Despite this, there is still a persistent perception that CAD is a man's disease.
"However, our research found that women with CCS Class IV angina, which means they are unable to perform any activity without symptoms and even suffer angina at rest, are significantly more likely to develop severe CAD than men with the same condition," Kreatsoulas added.
The study appears in the July issue of the Journal of Internal Medicine.