Heart Disease in Men and Women

There are several fascinating differences between a man and a woman’s heart. The most significant difference starts with overall size. Women’s hearts and arteries are smaller than men’s. The inner walls of a woman’s heart are also thinner than those of a man’s. These factors, as well as many others, contribute to different symptoms and treatments of heart disease in men and women.

Symptoms of a Heart Attack

Men and women can experience different symptoms that are brought on from a heart attack. The most common sign of a heart attack is chest pain. Men tend to have a more severe, heavy sensation, in the middle of the chest before a heart attack. Women can also experience this sensation; however, they are likelier to have more subtle symptoms leading up to this. These symptoms often include exhaustion and joint pain.

Causes of Heart Attack

Coronary Artery Disease, also known as CAD, is the hardening and eventual blockage of the coronary arteries. When blood flow is slowed and stopped from circulating through the arteries, a heart attack is triggered. CAD is typically harder to diagnose in women than it is with men. A woman’s smaller arteries are more challenging to be found on an artery x-ray (angiogram). Atrial fibrillation, also known as afib, is another common cause for heart attacks in both men and women. This occurs when the heart begins to beat in an irregular rhythm, oftentimes faster than normal. While women have a higher survival rate than men in regards to afib, they also have worse symptoms and related issues such as a higher likelihood of strokes. There are women’s cardiovascular specialists for exactly these reasons.

Recovery

Statistically, men will have their first heart attack at a younger age than women. The average age for a man experiencing his first heart attack is 66, for women it is 70. Men and women also tend to recover differently from heart attacks. On average, women will have a longer hospital stay and more prone to blood clotting. Also, women are more likely to suffer a second heart attack within a year of the first.

Prevention

The best way for both men and women to avoid a heart attack is to lead a healthy lifestyle. Diet and exercise are key. This could mean as little as 30 minutes of exercise per day. Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial to heart health. Diet is also a significant contributing factor. Eating the right foods can keep your blood pressure low and have many different benefits to your heart health.