Women & Coronary Microvascular Disease

Coronary Microvascular Disease (CMD) is a difficult to diagnose form of heart disease that typically results in chest pain. CMD is generally found in women, although a smaller percentage of men also have been found to have this condition. Chest pain is typically the culprit for landing a CMD sufferer in to see their doctor to have tests. If there are no blockages found during testing in the main arteries to the heart, CMD may be the cause.

CMD Symptoms

  • Fatigue
  • Upset stomach
  • Pain in the jaw or shoulders
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Anxiety

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) says that because of these uncertain symptoms, diagnosing CMD can be challenging for doctors. This is especially true if common screening tools for heart disease reveal nothing unusual.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Women with CMD have plaque buildup in the smallest heart arteries causing a slow reduction in oxygen flow. This makes it particularly difficult for doctors to diagnose this type of heart disease. Standard chest X-rays, CT scans and angiographies usually miss the problem. CMD usually manifests itself first when people start having problems doing routine daily tasks. Common tests used to diagnosis CMD:

  • Stress Test "“ may be ordered to see if the heart is getting enough blood during exercise
  • Angiogram "“ may be ordered to determine if the arteries of the heart are blocked
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG) "“ could be done to assess blood through the arteries and heart

Causes and Prevention

The causes of CMD are still largely unknown and can vary from patient to patient. Recommendations for adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle include:

  • No smoking
  • Exercising
  • Following a heart-healthy diet
  • Keeping cholesterol and blood pressure at healthy levels

If you suspect the possibility of CMD, McLaren Health Care offers cardiology specialists that can assist in diagnostic and treatment options.