The study does indicate the need for emphasizing "lifestyle risk factors and optimal medical [drug] treatment" after a diagnosis of angina, Buckley said.
"For many people, the important thing when they are diagnosed with angina is to look at their lifestyle and do what can be done about it," he said. "Medications to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol are good. If you could do that without drugs, so much the better. There are a lot of risk factors that can be managed, and when you do that you are avoiding heart attacks and deaths."
The findings should be interpreted cautiously, said Dr. Gregg C. Fonarow, a professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, and director of the Ahmanson-UCLA Cardiomyopathy Center. One reason is that a diagnosis of angina does not pinpoint the cause of the chest pain, he said.
"Angina is a lot of challenges," Fonarow said. "It can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people."
And the study was observational, meaning that it dealt with all the people seen at the medical practices rather than being a controlled trial in which participants are carefully matched, he said. "Treatment was decided upon not by randomization but just by defining the condition," Fonarow said. "You need a randomized clinical trial to get definitive results."
But the difference in outcome between men and women appears real, although the reasons for it remain unknown, Fonarow said. "That simply hasn't been established," he said.
Angina and its treatment are described by the American Heart Association.
SOURCES: Brian Buckley, M.D., research fellow, National University of Ireland, Galway; Gregg C. Fonarow, M.D., professor, medicine, University of California, Los
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