Role of noninvasive testing in the clinical evaluation of women with suspected coronary artery disease: Consensus statement from the Cardiac Imaging Committee, Council on Clinical Cardiology, and the Cardiovascular Imaging and Intervention Committee, Council on Cardiovascular Radiology and Intervention, American Heart Association
Coronary Artery Disease
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of mortality for women in the United States. Coronary heart disease, which includes coronary atherosclerotic disease, myocardial infarction, acute coronary syndromes, and angina, is the largest subset of this mortality, with >240,000 women dying annually from the disease. Atherosclerotic coronary artery disease (CAD) is the focus of this consensus statement. Research continues to report underrecognition and underdiagnosis of CAD as contributory to high mortality rates in women. Timely and accurate diagnosis can significantly reduce CAD mortality for women; indeed, once the diagnosis is made, it does appear that current treatments are equally effective at reducing risk in both women and men. As such, noninvasive diagnostic and prognostic testing offers the potential to identify women at increased CAD risk as the basis for instituting preventive and therapeutic interventions. Nevertheless, the recent evidence-based practice program report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality noted the paucity of women enrolled in diagnostic research studies. Consequently, much of the evidence supporting contemporary recommendations for noninvasive diagnostic studies in women is extrapolated from studies conducted predominantly in cohorts of middle-aged men. The majority of diagnostic and prognostic evidence in cardiac imaging in women and men has been derived from observational registries and referral populations that are affected by selection and other biases. Thus, a better understanding of the potential impact of sex differences on noninvasive cardiac testing in women may greatly improve clinical decision making. This consensus statement provides a synopsis of available evidence on the role of the exercise ECG and cardiac imaging modalities, both those in common use as well as developing technologies that may add clinical value to the diagnosis and risk assessment of the symptomatic and asymptomatic woman with suspected CAD.