Health A-Z

How Heart Disease Differs in Men and Women


Did you know that men and women have different heart disease symptoms? The heart is a major concern all over the world and especially in the UAE, where it is a top killer. Unlike in the past, where only adults experienced heart problems, people in their 20s now suffer from heart disease. According to WHO, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death and disability globally. Heart disease is caused by various factors like obesity, diabetes, smoking, hypertension, lack of exercise, etc.

What is Heart Disease?

Heart disease can manifest in various forms, but the simplest definition is a disorder in the heart’s blood vessels that leads to a heart attack. A heart attack is caused by plaque build-up in the arteries that cause narrowing of arteries connected to the heart. The narrow arteries prevent adequate blood flow to the heart, sometimes, a clot might form, obstructing blood flow to the heart, and this causes a heart attack. Heart disease also includes congestive heart failure, heart valve problems, and arrhythmia.

Heart Disease Differences in Men and Women


Although heart disease is still the top cause of death in women and men, it can present itself in different ways for both genders. Here is how it differs.

Women and Men’s Hearts are Different

Women have smaller hearts and higher heart rates than men. An adult’s heart beats 70 to 85 times per minute, but in men, it is between 70 to 72 times per minute, and in women, 78 to 82 times per minute. The difference is because women’s hearts are smaller, therefore pumping less blood this is why it needs to pump more times.

Women also have less plaque build-up, and it is different from how it manifests in men. It is important to consult the best cardiologists Dubai experts whenever you think you have a heart problem. Female hormones narrow arteries while male hormones enlarge them, this way, women are more prone to artery blockages and blood clots that are difficult to treat.

Varying Risk Factors

Although men and women share some risk factors, some are riskier for women. For instance, a woman’s reproductive history can increase the risk factor for heart disease. Certain diseases that occur during pregnancy, like gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, can increase your chances of getting heart disease in the future.

A study showed that women 40 years and younger with endometriosis were 3 times more likely to get a heart attack, require treatment for blocked arteries, or chest pain than women without the disease in the same age group. If you have preeclampsia, endometriosis, or gestational diabetes, you should consult the best cardiologists in Dubai to learn how to live a healthy lifestyle and to identify the signs and symptoms of heart disease.

Varying Symptoms

A heart attack looks and feels different in men and women. Although most symptoms are similar, like chest pain, discomfort, or pressure that lasts a few minutes, it might not be the most noticeable or severe symptom in women. You might notice tightness or pressure in the chest. Women are more likely to experience heart attack symptoms not linked to chest pain. For instance;

·       Shortness of breath

·       Abdominal, neck, upper back, shoulder, or jaw discomfort

·       Pain in a single or both arms

·       Sweating

·       Nausea or vomiting

·       Indigestion

·       Dizziness or light-headedness

·       Unusual fatigue.

These symptoms might not be noticeable like other symptoms associated with a heart attack. Because it’s not easy to recognize heart disease symptoms in women, they only rush to the hospital when the damage is already done. Also, because these symptoms differ from men, you might be misdiagnosed; that is why it is important to consult a professional like the best cardiologists Dubai office.

Women Have Different Tests

Did you know that when you visit a health facility with heart disease symptoms, you might receive different diagnostic care than a man? If the doctor suspects a heart attack in both men and women, the physician administers a cardiac troponin (cTn) test to measure troponin circulation levels. Troponin is released in the blood when a heart attack damages your heart.

The higher the levels of troponin, the more your heart is damaged. However, the clinical magnitude that indicates a heart attack differs for both. Some women might have heart attacks, but the levels of troponin might not be detectable. Other tests like cardiac catheterization can diagnose a heart attack in men but might not be appropriate for women.

Women Might Experience False Symptoms

Women are more likely to suffer from symptoms that mimic heart attack than men. For instance, a coronary spasm, which is the temporary constriction of your heart’s arteries. A coronary spasm can decrease or block blood flow to the heart. It mimics a heart attack because it causes chest pain. You can also experience a coronary dissection, a condition that occurs when a tear develops in the wall of a blood vessel. You might also experience a broken heart syndrome that causes the heart to enlarge after emotional stress.

Cholesterol Build-up is Different

A heart attack occurs when plaque builds up in your arteries which causes damage to blood vessels. While women develop plaque build-up in the small blood vessels of the heart, in men, it occurs in the largest arteries that supply the heart with blood. Also, plaque build-up is only partly responsible for heart attacks. Inflammation is also a factor that contributes to a significant difference we see in heart attacks in men and women.

Differences in Biology

Men and women have different physiologies and anatomies like muscles and joints, the brain, and lungs. The cardiovascular system of women and men is also different. Women have narrow blood vessels and smaller hearts than men. These differences cause heart disease to progress in varying forms for men and women. It is why men and women require different diagnostics and treatment methods.


Heart disease is the leading cause of death and disability globally and should not be taken lightly. Men and women have different anatomies that cause symptoms of heart disease to manifest in different ways. It is advisable to consult a qualified physician if you think you have heart disease symptoms.

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