Heart Disease & The Sexes: Women’s Hearts Differ From Men’s


This is a follow-up to our article about the 10 Foods for a Heart Healthy Day. Here is a bit more information on how we can all be more conscious about our hearts:

Men who get female hearts are more likely to die within a year of their transplant, according to research at the University of Maryland’s School of Medicine. And that makes sense considering the differences between a man and a women’s heart.

First of all, a women’s heart and arteries are smaller than a man’s, which is a simple reflection of their smaller body size. Plaque on a man’s arteries is more likely to be harder and calcified, affecting all three arteries. Women’s plaque is likely to be softer and is actually more likely to dislodge and cause a heart attack.

Heart disease without blocked arteries happens more often with women than with men, likely a result of low blood flow to the heart. And a women’s heart is impacted by estrogen. When women are younger the flow of estrogen actually protects the heart, but as women age, the level of estrogen drops.

“The onset of menopause is a time to work with your doctor to develop a heart-healthy plan, including exercise, a low-salt Mediterranean-style diet, and annual checks of blood lipids and blood pressure,” cardiac surgeon Marc Gillinov and cardiologist Steven Nissen say. Don’t accept a higher risk of heart disease just because you hit menopause. Be proactive and reduce your risk.

Being male does increase your risk of having a heart attack at a younger age. High blood pressure is more common in younger men. Some of the biggest risk factors in women include obesity and inactivity and yet 35 percent of women in the U.S. are obese and 25 percent of women do not exercise.

Heart Attack Symptoms in Men Versus Women


  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Sweating


  • Nausea and extreme fatigue
  • Arm and neck pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feelings of anxiety and loss of appetite

As originally published on Discovery Health

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