Women’s hearts are usually smaller, and some of the internal chambers are smaller, and the walls separating these chambers are thinner. Second, women’s hearts pump blood faster than men’s, but expel 10 percent less blood per contraction.
Women’s pulses increase when they feel stressful pressure, causing the heart to expel more blood, while men’s heart arteries contract when they feel stressful pressure, causing blood pressure to rise.
The physiological differences in gender also have an important impact on the onset of heart disease symptoms and treatment.
Coronary artery disease (CAD)
Coronary artery disease is the leading cause of heart attacks. During blood circulation, excess fat is deposited on the walls of the heart’s arteries, forming plaque deposits. These plaques grow slowly, gradually hardening and narrowing the arteries, thus interfering with blood flow. or the plaques are softer and more prone to rupture, creating blood clots that can block blood flow. The end result of both types of plaque can lead to a heart attack.
After a heart attack, the prognosis for women tends to be less favorable than for men. This is partly because women do not receive the best treatment, and partly because they are unaware that they have had an attack until it is too late and their symptoms worsen.
The following are the differences between men and women who suffer from coronary heart disease and heart attacks.
1. Female specific risk factors.
Endometriosis, polycystic ovarian disease (PCOS), hypertension during pregnancy and other conditions found only in women increase the risk of developing coronary heart disease. Studies have found that endometriosis increases the risk of coronary heart disease by 400% in women under the age of 40.
Women have the same conventional risk factors as men, such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, smoking and obesity. Women are also affected by a family history of heart disease, with a significantly higher risk of developing coronary heart disease in themselves when their father or brother was diagnosed with coronary heart disease before age 55, or when their mother or sister was diagnosed with coronary heart disease before age 65.
2. Women are usually older when they have their first heart attack.
The average age of a heart attack in women is 70 years old, compared to 66 years old in men. Women’s estrogen provides some protection for their hearts, but this protection is weakened by the decline in estrogen levels after menopause.
3. Women have a variety of heart attack symptoms
Chest pain is the most common symptom of a heart attack in men, while heart attack symptoms may be different in women. Some women also experience chest pain, but they may experience a number of specific symptoms in the three to four weeks before a heart attack, including
New onset or intense fatigue. Extreme fatigue, inability to sleep, or “heaviness” in the chest without doing heavy work. For example, a simple act like making the bed can make a woman feel unusually tired, or suddenly exhausted, short of breath or sweaty after a normal workout.
A cold, damp feeling for no apparent reason.
Pain in the neck, back or jaw, and some sudden onset of pain.
4. Coronary artery disease in women is sometimes difficult to diagnose.
Angiography is the standard test to detect narrowing or blockage of the large arteries of the heart. However, coronary artery disease in women usually occurs in small arteries that are not visible on angiography. Therefore, it is easy to get an “all clear” result after an angiogram. Women who continue to have symptoms should see a cardiologist.
5. Heart attacks are more severe in women than in men.
After a heart attack, women tend to have a poorer prognosis than men. They usually stay in the hospital longer and have a higher risk of dying before discharge. The reason for this is that women who have a heart attack have more untreated risk factors, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
6. Women do not always receive appropriate medication after a heart attack.
After a heart attack, women are at greater risk of developing blood clots, which can lead to a second heart attack. For unknown reasons, they take medications to prevent blood clots at a somewhat lower rate.
Heart attacks in men prevent powerful muscle contractions that can lead to heart failure. Comparatively, women are more likely to have heart failure when high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease or other conditions interfere with their heart muscle’s ability to diaphragmize normally between beats.
Women with this type of heart failure usually live longer than men with heart failure. However, they are often hospitalized for shortness of breath, have limited mobility and are more likely to require nursing home care.
Atrial fibrillation is a condition in which the heart beats in an irregular, rapid rhythm. Recent studies have found that women with atrial fibrillation have more symptoms, poorer quality of life, higher risk of stroke and a worse prognosis than men.
They can be treated for atrial fibrillation with catheter ablation, but are more likely than men to be re-hospitalized for atrial fibrillation after the procedure. Despite these problems, women treated for atrial fibrillation survive longer and are less likely to die from heart disease than men who have atrial fibrillation.
What should we do to protect ourselves? Whether you are a man or a woman, it is never too late to do what you can to reduce your risk of heart attack:.
Quit smoking, and certainly don’t take up smoking.
Exercise regularly and walk at least 30 minutes a day.
Eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish, and less animal products, refined carbohydrates and processed foods.
Maintain normal weight, blood pressure, blood lipid and blood sugar levels.