Heart Disease: What Are the Differences in Men and Women?

Heart disease is a term used to describe any condition that impacts the heart or its blood vessels. Since heart disease comes in many forms, it can vary greatly from person to person. That said, there are several notable differences in heart disease in men when compared to heart disease in women. This article will discuss these differences and how they impact the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease.

Heart Disease Symptoms

Men and women often experience significantly different symptoms of heart disease. Specifically, women are far more likely to have abnormal symptoms of a heart attack, such as:

  • Back, neck, jaw, throat, or abdominal pain
  • Indigestion
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating

A higher likelihood of having atypical heart attack symptoms can present challenges for the diagnosis of women with heart disease. These symptoms may be more understated and difficult to identify. 

Cholesterol Plaque Buildup

Another key difference in heart disease for men vs. women is in the areas in which cholesterol plaque accumulates. Men most often experience cholesterol buildup in the largest arteries, which deliver blood to the heart. Women, on the other hand, have a higher chance of having cholesterol build up in the microvasculature, which are the smallest blood vessels of the heart. This shows that cholesterol plaque buildup isn’t the only factor in the development of heart disease for men and women and inflammation is also a key contributor to the development of heart disease.  

Heart Disease Risk Factors

There are several risk factors for heart disease that apply to both men and women, including obesity, smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, and family history. However, some heart disease risk factors mainly impact women far more often than men. These include:

  • Increased hypertension during menopause
  • Autoimmune diseases, which are more prevalent among women
  • High-stress levels or chronic stress
  • High levels of testosterone before menopause
  • Depression, which is more common among women

Improving awareness of the symptoms and risk factors of heart disease can help prevent it among both men and women. Visit Florida Wellness Medical Group to learn more about your heart disease risk today.