A real-world analysis reveals that women are consistently less likely to undergo intracoronary imaging as part of percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), even though it benefits both sexes equally.
Results from nearly all PCIs performed in England and Wales between 2006 and 2019 showed the absolute rate of intracoronary imaging with either intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) or optical coherence tomography (OCT) was 5% lower in the later study years among women at 14.5%, compared with 19.6% in men (P < .001).
After adjustment, female sex was an independent predictor of lower intracoronary imaging use (odds ratio, 0.93; 95% confidence interval, 0.91-0.96), according to the study, published in JACC: Cardiovascular Interventions.
“One of the thoughts I had when we were running this analysis was, well, maybe the indications for that imaging, as recommended by guidelines, are less common in women,” Mamas Mamas, MD, told this news organization. “So what we did was to look at just cases where imaging is recommended by the EAPCI [European Association of Percutaneous Coronary Intervention].”
Again, the use of intracoronary imaging was consistently lower among women than among men for all of the following EAPCI-recommended indications:
- Acute coronary syndrome: 11.6% vs. 12.3% (P < .01).
- Stent thrombosis: 30.9% vs. 34.9% (P < .01).
- Long lesions: 13.1% vs. 16.3% (P < .01).
- Chronic total occlusions: 16.2% vs. 18.3% (P < .01).
- Left main stem PCI: 55.1% vs. 57.5% (P < .01).
- In-stent restenosis: 28.0% vs. 30.7%.
- Calcified lesions: 36.6% vs. 40.1% (P < .01).
- Renal disease: 17.4% vs. 19.5% (P < .01).
As to what might be driving the lower use, Dr. Mamas dismissed the argument that women undergo much simpler PCI, which wouldn’t benefit from imaging. Women do have smaller coronary arteries, however, and there is a belief that it’s easier to eyeball the size of vessels that are smaller rather than larger.
“I’m not convinced that’s entirely true,” he said. “I don’t have a good answer for you, I’m afraid. I don’t really know why we’re seeing it. I just think it’s one of those disparities that is important to highlight.”
Central to this belief is that the benefits of intracoronary imaging were found to be similar in men and women. Intracoronary imaging was associated with lower adjusted odds of in-hospital mortality (OR, 0.56; 95% CI, 0.48-0.64) and major adverse cardiac and cerebrovascular events (OR, 0.83; 95% CI, 0.76-0.91) in women and men (OR, 0.48; 95% CI, 0.44-0.53 and OR, 0.75; 95% CI, 0.71-0.80, respectively), compared with nonimaging groups.
“This really should be a call to arms, particularly given that we show this disparity persists, even in guideline-recommended cases where we should be using it,” said Dr. Mamas, from the Keele (England) Cardiovascular Research Group, Keele University, and Royal Stoke University Hospital, Stoke-on-Trent, England.
“Actually, I would argue that we should be using more imaging in women than men anyway because many of the presentations for acute coronary syndromes in women, like spontaneous coronary artery dissection or MINOCA [MI with nonobstructive coronary arteries], you often need intracoronary imaging to make that kind of diagnosis,” he observed.