As manager of the Heart and Vascular Center at Alton Memorial Hospital, Bill Rodgers provides education and resources to physicians, nurses and cardiovascular technicians. "It is my job to see that all staff members understand the implications of the testing and treatments they administer," said Rodgers.
Rodgers, a graduate of the SIUE School of Nursing Health Care and Nursing Administration master's program, used his required graduate program research project as an opportunity to explore cardiovascular disease in women.
According to the National Institutes of Health, as many as three million women with previously diagnosed healthy arteries are at increased risk of coronary microvascular dysfunction, the forming of plaque in diffuse patterns throughout the coronary tree rather than focally, as is typically found in men.
To recognize coronary microvascular dysfunction before it progresses to its advanced stages, health care providers must recognize a woman at risk and understand that different treatment approaches than those traditionally used in men may be necessary.
"Women often come to the hospital with atypical symptoms," he said. "Typical diagnostic testing such as coronary angiography may not be able to accurately detect coronary disease at the microvascular level."
Study results led Rodgers to the following conclusions: Future research needs to be more gender balanced with greater female participation and initiatives to improve earlier recognition; diagnosis and treatment strategies need to be established. "Health care providers and female patients need to be better educated about the unique cardiovascular needs of women," said Rodgers.