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Women Need More Help After Heart Attack
Date:2/16/2010

re other ways to enhance support," she said, such as rehabilitation programs.

The study results "should help raise the awareness of care providers about what kinds of clinical intervention are necessary and the need for social contacts," Lichtman said. "It should help us target interventions to improve social support, not only by clinicians but also by family and friends."

Another study in the same issue of the journal showed that while heart disease is the leading cause of death in women as well as men, women made up only 30 percent of the patient population in the 156 randomized trials cited by the American Heart Association's 2007 guidelines for cardiovascular disease prevention in women. And only one-third of the trials reported gender-specific results.

There is no simple explanation for the lower inclusion of women in clinical trials, said Dr. Chiara Melloni, an assistant professor of medicine at Duke University and the lead author of the report.

"There are many possible explanations," Melloni added. "Women could be less willing to participate, and there could be some bias against women for inclusion."

One possible factor is that women tend to have heart disease later in life than men, Melloni said. "If you exclude older patients from a study, you are more likely to exclude women," she explained.

But there could be a "social factor," she also noted. "Women are sometimes less aware of cardiovascular risk than men."

More information on women and cardiovascular disease are needed, and steps are being taken to improve the situation, Melloni said. Both the U.S. National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have taken steps to increase the number of women in clinical trials, she noted.

A third paper in the journal outlined a simplified strategy for predicting women's cardiovascular disease risk. The most commonly used strategy, based on findings of the Framingham Heart Study,
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