Cardiovascular disease, sex and gender


Researchers at second annual GENESIS ICE meeting reveal research results

A team of researchers led by MUHC epidemiologist Dr. Louise Pilote announced the initial findings of the GENESIS ICE project today at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress in Vancouver. The GENESIS ICE project was initiated two years ago and is Canada's largest multidisciplinary initiative to study the causes of cardiovascular disease — the leading cause of death in Canada. The project involves a team of more than 30 researchers from across Canada, investigating key unknowns in the way cardiovascular disease affects women and men.

After two years of pilot work, the GENESIS ICE team has identified key differences in presentation and response to treatment in cardiovascular disease between women and men. "Both men and women report non-traditional symptoms before a heart attack," says Dr. Pilote. "Women are more likely to require further hospital care related to their chest pain symptoms than men with acute myocardial infarction, and medications have been shown to affect them differently."

Exposure to angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor and angiotensin receptor blockers (antihypertensive medications) may act differently in women and men with congestive heart failure. Statin therapy (medication used to lower cholesterol), which is associated with reduction in all-cause and cardiac mortality after acute myocardial infarction, has also been shown to affect women and men differently. Genetic differences associated with blood pressure and obesity have also been identified.

More Canadians die from cardiovascular disease than from any other cause. It is crucial to identify differences between women and men in prevention as well as symptomatology, treatment and rehabilitation of this disease. Identifying sex-specific differences will help health care providers and policy makers implement more effective preventive and treatment strategies. This is the main goal of GENESIS ICE, which stands for Gender and Sex Determinants of Cardiovascular Disease — Interdisciplinary Capacity Enhancement.

Following the GENESIS ICE workshop at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress last year, the team completed an issues theme which will be published in e-CMAJ in January 2007: "A Comprehensive View of Sex Specific Issues Related to Cardiovascular Disease." To find out more, visit the GENESIS ICE team website:

GENESIS ICE is funded by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada (HSFC) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

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The McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) is a comprehensive academic health institution with an international reputation for excellence in clinical programs, research and teaching. The MUHC is a merger of five teaching hospitals affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University — the Montreal Children's, Montreal General, Royal Victoria, and Montreal Neurological Hospitals, as well as the Montreal Chest Institute. Building on the tradition of medical leadership of the founding hospitals, the goal of the MUHC is to provide patient care based on the most advanced knowledge in the health care field, and to contribute to the development of new knowledge.

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Ian Popple
MUHC Public Relations and Communications
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