Medicine cannot be a backwater where historic inequities in care are much discussed, where the statistics of lives cut short are duly recorded, but not a finger is lifted to address systemic problems. Black lives matter in our streets, in our hospitals, in our clinics, and in our physician's offices.
We need to be more informed so that we can weigh the potential costs, risks and complications of heart test in women to determine what is best. Some of the risks include radiation exposure, dye reactions and vascular injury. Let's put that into context. One nuclear stress test, one of the most common heart tests, is equivalent to radiation exposure of 39 mammograms and up to 1,000 chest X-rays. In case you are wondering, this is a big deal.
The idea of being attacked by a shark, as unlikely as it is, is scary. But why, if the odds are so low? Because our perception of risk is not just about the numbers. It's about emotions too. There is no better example of how risk perception is more a matter of emotion than of quantitative reasoning than this classic illustration of how our fears sometimes don't match the facts.
Despite this large number of women affected by cardiovascular disease, women and minorities are underrepresented in cardiovascular clinical trials. Only one-third of cardiovascular clinical trials report sex-specific results, making it ever more difficult for researchers and clinicians to know how a particular drug or device will affect women.
We all appreciate the elegance of simple solutions to complex problems. But we know too that simplicity can often masquerade as truth, hiding a more nuanced reality. Such is the case with inflammation, where pseudoscience, exaggerated claims, false promises, and dangerous oversimplification have dominated for too long.