Men are from Mars, women are from Venus, right? Not quite, but they are different when it comes to heart health. February is American Heart Month and is a good time to examine the differences between the sexes when it comes to heart health.
Here are a few facts on the basic differences between men and women’s hearts and heart-related conditions:
Symptoms can differ
Both men and women can experience the crushing chest pain associated with a heart attack, but women are more likely to experience subtler symptoms—like fatigue, nausea, and pain or discomfort in the jaw, stomach, neck or back. In fact, the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women initiative focuses specifically on awareness for women and heart disease, as well as stroke. Go Red provides several helpful resources including myths vs. facts for symptoms, risk factors for women and much more. As a reminder, male or female, if you or someone you know is experiencing what could be heart attack symptoms, take it seriously. Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department right away.
Severity and causes can differ
According to Harvard Medical School, a heart attack in men is typically caused by the sudden rupture of a cholesterol-filled plaque in the coronary artery, but in women a plaque is more likely to slowly erode the vessel wall instead of suddenly bursting. This is also why women are more likely to have smaller, non-fatal heart attacks.