Sex differences in chest pain in patients with documented coronary artery disease and exercise-induced ischemia: Results from the PIMI study.


Journal Article

BACKGROUND: Sex differences in the pathophysiologic course of coronary artery disease (CAD) are widely recognized, yet accurate diagnosis of coronary artery disease in women remains challenging. METHODS: To determine sex differences in the clinical manifestation of CAD, we studied chest pain reported during daily activities, exercise, and mental stress in 170 men and 26 women. All patients had documented CAD (>50% narrowing in at least 1 major coronary artery or prior myocardial infarction) and all had 1-mm ST-segment depression on treadmill exercise. We collected psychologic test results, serum samples (potassium, epinephrine, norepinephrine, cortisol, b-endorphin, and glucose), and cardiac function, sensory threshold, and autonomic function data at specified times before, during, or after exercise and mental stress tests to assess measures of depression, anxiety, and neurohormonal and thermal pain perception. RESULTS: Women reported chest pain more often than men during daily activities (P =.04) and during laboratory mental stressors (P =.01) but not during exercise. Men had lower scores than women on measures of depression, trait anxiety, harm avoidance, and reward dependence (P <.05 for all). Women had significantly lower plasma b-endorphin levels at rest (4.2 +/- 3.9 vs 5.0 +/- 2.5 pmol/L for men, P =.005) and at maximal mental stress (6.4 +/- 5.1 vs 7.4 +/- 3.5 pmol/L for men, P <.01). A higher proportion of women than men had marked pain sensitivity to graded heat stimuli applied to skin (hot pain threshold <41 degrees C, 33% vs 10%, P =.001). CONCLUSIONS: Our results reflect sex differences in the affective and discriminative aspects of pain perception and may help explain sex-related differences in clinical presentations.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Sheps, DS; Kaufmann, PG; Sheffield, D; Light, KC; McMahon, RP; Bonsall, R; Maixner, W; Carney, RM; Freedland, KE; Cohen, JD; Goldberg, AD; Ketterer, MW; Raczynski, JM; Pepine, CJ

Published Date

  • November 2001

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 142 / 5

Start / End Page

  • 864 - 871

PubMed ID

  • 11685176

Pubmed Central ID

  • 11685176

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1097-6744

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1067/mhj.2001.119133


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States