Heartfelt Differences: Sex-based Disparities in Heart Health

Cardiovascular disease stands as the primary cause of death among men and women.¹ Cardiovascular disease is a general term to describe various conditions of the heart and blood vessels such as high blood pressure, heart failure, and heart attacks. However, there are differences in how heart diseases develop and appear based on sex. The goal of this blog is to bring awareness to women’s heart health, a topic often unnoticed. 

Difference 1: Presentation of Symptoms

Men: For some conditions, such as heart attack, a common symptom is chest pain.
Women: While women may experience chest pain prior to a heart attack, they may also experience symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, dizziness, or no symptoms at all. Historical studies mainly conducted heart health research on men, so women experiencing these symptoms of a heart attack may go unrecognized.

Difference 2: Medications Received

Men: In many studies, researchers found that men tend to have more aggressive treatment plans. ²
Women: Compared to men, in many cases women are less likely to receive the necessary medications according to medical guidelines.ibid  Some researchers suspect that women are less likely to speak up about dissatisfaction with their healthcare experiences which may also affect their care.³

Difference 3: Procedures received

Men: Some studies suggest men are more likely to receive life-saving procedures after a cardiac event.
Women: Women receive such procedures at a lower rate than men, and also may experience delayed care. ⁵

The healthcare system needs to improve the gender gap with the clinical care of heart diseases. In the meantime, it is important to find a provider that you trust to manage your heart conditions. At Trust Women’s Healthcare, we take heart health seriously and we are committed to providing our patients with the highest quality of care.  Schedule an appointment with us!

  1. CDC. Heart Disease Facts | cdc.gov. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published May 15, 2023. Accessed January 28, 2024. https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm
  2. Cho L, Hoogwerf B, Huang J, Brennan DM, Hazen SL. Gender differences in utilization of effective cardiovascular secondary prevention: a Cleveland clinic prevention database study. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2008 May;17(4):515-21. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2007.0443. PMID: 18345999; PMCID: PMC2836534.
  3. Compared with Men, Women with Heart Disease More Likely to Report More Treatment and Care Disparities. Accessed February 13, 2024. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/newsroom/news-releases/2018/12/compared-with-men-women-with-heart-disease-more-likely-to-report-more-treatment-and-care-disparities
  4. Skelding KA, Boga G, Sartorius J, et al. Frequency of coronary angiography and revascularization among men and women with myocardial infarction and their relationship to mortality at one year: an analysis of the Geisinger myocardial infarction cohort. J Interv Cardiol. 2013;26(1):14-21. doi:10.1111/joic.12009
  5. Bugiardini R, Ricci B, Cenko E, et al. Delayed Care and Mortality Among Women and Men With Myocardial Infarction. J Am Heart Assoc. 2017;6(8):e005968. Published 2017 Aug 21. doi:10.1161/JAHA.117.005968

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