Women & Cardiovascular Disease

With the constant stream of pandemic information coming at us, it was refreshing to attempt a pause of sorts, in whatever way we could, to celebrate Mother’s Day on Sunday, May 10th.

May 10th also marked the beginning of National Women’s Health Week in the United States. This week-long health observance is a reminder for us to make women’s health a priority. Underlying conditions, including cardiovascular disease, are specific areas of focus given the increased risks they bring to women.

It is well understood that our usual care pathway for diagnosing heart disease does not serve women well. The American Heart Association reports that “64% of women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease reported no previous symptoms.” And when women do report symptoms, the data shows that, compared to men, women have:

However, not all news on this front is discouraging! Global clinical data are showing that clinical practice can better serve women through the increased use of coronary CTA and improved communication with patients.

Data from ISCHEMIA, SCOT-HEART, CRESCENT, and ROMICAT II all show that CTA can help to reduce the guesswork in cardiac care for women by:

Additionally, ISCHEMIA data presented at ACC 2020 showed that women experience more frequent chest pain without classically defined obstructive disease. This data, combined with the report from the AHA about a lack of symptoms in women, might provide an opportunity to reframe what clinicians and patients identify as “symptoms”. Instead of focusing on the “classic” image of someone clutching their chest in pain, we need to pay attention to the unique symptoms women are likely to experience such as arm or jaw discomfort, fatigue, nausea and indigestion.

Global healthcare is transitioning right now before our eyes.  It is clear that today’s decisions will influence the care that patients receive for years to come. As healthcare leaders such as the European Society of Cardiology and major US insurers such as UnitedHealthcare choose to prioritize coronary CTA for patients, they are defining a better care future.

So this Women’s Health Week, let’s commit to a better diagnostic pathway for women and others who have been underserved by offerings of the past. Change like this moves us all forward together.

— A perspective from HeartFlow Chief Medical Officer, Campbell Rogers, MD
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1. Mangion, et al. Eur Heart J 2020. doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehz903
2. Shaw, et al. J Am Coll Cardiol 2006. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2005.01.072
3. Shaw, et al. Circulation 2008. doi: 10.1161/circulationaha.107.726562
4. Kosmidou, et al. J Am Coll Cardiol 2020. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2020.01.056

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Campbell Rogers, M.D., F.A.C.C.

Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer

Campbell brings a wealth of experience to HeartFlow, where he serves as the Chief Medical Officer. Prior to joining HeartFlow, he was the Chief Scientific Officer and Global Head of Research and Development at Cordis Corporation, Johnson & Johnson, where he was responsible for leading investments and research in cardiovascular devices. Prior to Cordis, he was Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard-M.I.T. Division of Health Sciences and Technology, and Director of the Cardiac Catheterization and Experimental Cardiovascular Interventional Laboratories at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He served as Principal Investigator for numerous interventional cardiology device, diagnostic, and pharmacology trials, is the author of numerous journal articles, chapters, and books in the area of coronary artery and other cardiovascular diseases, and was the recipient of research grant awards from the NIH and AHA.

He received his A.B. from Harvard College and his M.D. from Harvard Medical School.