Q: Why is heart disease not detected as easily in women than in men?

A: Much of this issue has to do with the atypical nature of many women’s symptoms. Some physicians were trained in a different era and may not be attune to the potential for just increased fatigue, shortness of breath, exercise-induced jaw pain or similar as an angina equivalent. As such, it is very important that if you experience typically reproducible symptoms with exercise or activity that you discuss these with your physician. As an example, I once cared for a woman whose angina was lower jaw and tooth pain, which would come on with exercise of about 3 minutes duration and wouldn’t stop until she rested. A stress test revealed coronary disease that was treated and her symptoms resolved.

  Andrew M. Freeman, MD, FACC, FACP