New book explores differences in how vascular disease presents itself in women and men – UB Now: News and views for UB professor and staff


In April 2019, vascular surgeons from the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences UB hosted the first-ever Women’s Vascular Summit, with attendees from across the country.

The aim was to start a discussion among vascular physicians about how vascular disease, which is a disease of blood vessels, such as arteries and veins, can be different in women than in men and what it means. for diagnosis and treatment.

These discussions turned out to be so productive that the conference organizers realized that a book on women’s vascular health was a vital next step.

The result is “Vascular disease in women: an overview of the literature and treatment recommendations” (Elsevier, August 2021). The volume is edited by Linda M. Harris, Professor of Surgery at the Jacobs School and Director of the UB Vascular Surgery Residency Program, and Caitlin W. Hicks, Associate Professor of Surgery at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

The book is based in part on contributions from the 2019 conference panelists, all of whom were women, and complemented by additional contributions from other surgeons interested in the impact of sex on vascular disease.

The goal of both the conference, which has now been held twice (most recent in virtually April), and the book is to better educate medical providers about the differences in presentation and outcomes of vascular disease in patients. women, and highlight issues that will help make diagnosis and appropriate treatment more likely.

“I want clinicians to start thinking about vascular disease in women, to understand that many women have vascular disease, but their presentation will not be a manual,” said Harris, vascular surgeon at UBMD Surgery.

“I want them to know that if a woman is showing symptoms, they should consider testing because their presentation just won’t be classic, as textbook symptoms tend to be presentation based in men.”

For example, among the topics that the book explores is the fact that a woman with a stroke may have different symptoms than a man.

“It may not be a weakness in an arm or a leg like in a man, but may present itself differently at first, such as a sudden memory problem, and the clinician may not expect it,” he said. Harris explained.

In addition, said Harris, women sometimes develop vascular disease at an older age than men, so they are more fragile, which also affects their symptoms. She said clinicians also need to know that women can have aneurysms in different parts of their bodies than men, so they can make those diagnoses more immediately. (Aneurysms are the potentially dangerous bulge in an arterial wall.)

“Prevention and screening in women should also be considered,” said Harris. “Women who smoke or have a family history of aneurysm should be considered for screening, per the recommendations of the Society for Vascular Surgery, which was generally not done because vascular disease was mistakenly considered less. common in women. “

The book also explains how issues of race and culture, such as unconscious bias, play a role in how vascular disease in women manifests and is diagnosed.

“We know there is a gender bias in research as well, whether it’s surgical, clinical, or even basic research,” Harris said. “For example, cell lines that are studied at a basic scientific level are almost always male cell lines, so potential hormonal impacts are not taken into account. It is not a conscious bias, it is an unconscious bias.

“It’s all awareness,” Harris continued. “If we don’t know we have a problem, then we’re never going to fix it. “


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