4 Ways Heart Disease Affects Men and Women Differently

April 01, 2019

As the leading cause of death in both men and women in the United States, heart disease is something everyone should take seriously.

What was once thought of as a “man’s disease,” this devastating condition affects both sexes without bias – and accounts for one in four deaths each year.

Men Versus Women

  1. Coronary artery disease occurs in different arteries. In men, coronary artery disease, which is cholesterol blockages of the arteries, occurs more in the large arteries on the surface of the heart. In women, these blockages occur in the smaller vessels that feed the muscles on the walls of the heart. These small vessels are difficult to see, and women usually come to the hospital thinking they are having a heart attack – only to find out after an angiogram that the major arteries aren’t affected at all.
  2. Women are more likely to die from heart disease. It’s easier to perform medical interventions – such as bypass surgeries and stents – on men. But, with women, the vessels are too small for intervention, which can lead to worse outcomes.
  3. Men and women respond to stress differently. In women, stress is more likely to be caused by emotional responses, whereas in men, stress is sparked more often by physical events.
    “In addition to stress, from my experience, women tend to be in more of a caregiver role – which means their health takes a backseat and they may ignore symptoms,” says Deirdre Mattina, M.D., Henry Ford cardiologist and director of the Women’s Heart Center. “When a woman comes in, we often see heart issues that, had she come in earlier, we could have recognized and treated earlier.”
  4. Women’s hormones are different. Men are more likely than women to suffer a heart attack before age 55. But once women go through menopause, their risk increases.
    “In medicine, there have been amazing advancements in the treatment of heart disease, and yet people are dying more of heart disease than ever before,” Dr. Mattina says.
    Male or female, you can reduce your risk for developing heart disease by adopting a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

Visit HenryFord.com/HeartHealth or call 1-800-HENRYFORD (436-7936) to learn more and schedule an appointment with a heart expert.

Assess your Heart Risk

Caring for your heart is worth the effort. From prevention to diagnosis and care, the heart and vascular experts at Henry Ford Health System are here to help you stay well. With our heart health risk assessment, in just five minutes you will find out the real age of your heart and discover your heart risk factors.

Take our interactive, online heart risk assessment today at Henryford.com/HeartHealth to learn exactly what areas of your heart health need attention.