Men vs. Women: How Their Hearts Differ and What It Means
The differences between men and women are usually abundantly clear, but not always. Did you know, for instance, that the eyes are located in slightly different places on the face, or that men tend to solve problems while women are more likely to talk through them? The differences are fascinating, not the least of which is the difference between men’s and women’s hearts.
We’re not talking about who has a greater capacity for love, emotions, affection, and compassion here. That’s another issue for another day. What we’re talking about is the actual, physical characteristics of the heart.
On the surface, all hearts look basically the same, but let’s take a deeper look.
Differences Between Men’s and Women’s Hearts
There are several differences between the size and function of men’s and women’s hearts. Following are several of the most notable ones.
- Size: By ratio, a woman’s heart and some of its chambers are smaller.
- Density: The walls that divide some of the chambers are thinner, and the veins are finer.
- Function: A woman’s heart pumps faster than a man’s, but a man’s heart ejects more blood with each pump.
- Stress Reaction: Stress causes a woman’s pulse rate to rise, leading to more blood being pumped. For men, arteries constrict, leading to a rise in blood pressure.
What Behavioral and Physical Differences Mean in Heart Disease Treatment
Following are several basic facts about the differences between men’s and women’s hearts, as well as challenges of heart disease treatment and diagnosis for these reasons.
1. Without seeing a doctor, women may confuse heart disease with other issues. Men feel a more obvious crushing pain in their chest, but women feel brief pain in the upper abdomen or back, nausea, shortness of breath, and sweating.
2. Statistically, men diagnosed with heart disease are about 10 years younger than women diagnosed with heart disease. This may be due to the fact that women’s symptoms may be less identifiable than men’s symptoms, as well as the idea that women tend to postpone seeking treatment.
3. A woman’s risk for cardiovascular disease significantly increases after menopause.
4. Sudden cardiac death is more common in men.
5. Because of the physical differences in the size and function of the heart, treating arrhythmia may require different types of medications for men versus women.
6. A family history of heart disease is significant for both men and women.
7. Women are more likely to experience heart palpitations.
8. In addition to shared risk factors, diseases only found in women, such as polycystic ovary disease and endometriosis, may increase the risk of coronary artery disease.
9. Men are likely to experience a heart attack earlier in life.
10. Heart attacks in women are frequently more detrimental, and the recovery period may last longer.
For more information about cardiovascular disease or to see if you are at risk, make an appointment with one of our cardiologists in Roseville, Shelby Township, East China, and Macomb Township.