Men and women don’t have the same heart, at least they age differently. The causes and effects of cardiac pathologies are therefore not the same whether you are a man or a woman. A heart attack and its symptoms are a good example. If in men the infarction is accompanied by easily identifiable sharp pains in the chest, it is completely different in women, making their treatment later.
The results of a study published in the journal Cardiology show that heart disease could have different causes in men and women. The study consisted of analyzing the MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging) of the aging hearts of nearly 3,000 adults aged 54 to 94 without any heart disease. They were followed for ten years and at the end of this period the researchers did a new MRI to obtain images of the hearts in three dimensions.
Men’s and women’s hearts age differently
In both sexes, the left ventricle, which fills with oxygenated blood before pushing it out to the body, shrinks with age. As a result, less oxygenated blood enters the heart and is returned to the body.
But in men, the study reveals that the muscle surrounding this cavity grows and thickens as we age, while in women it tends to shrink.
A thickening of this muscle and a reduction in the volume of the left ventricle increase the risk of heart failure. But these observations suggest that this pathology could develop differently in men and women.
To reduce this risk, cardiologists prescribe drugs that tend to reduce the thickness of heart muscle and boost its capacity. But this study, by showing that in women the heart muscle is reduced, suggests that heart failure does not have the same origins in both sexes and could not benefit from the same treatment.
Heart attack: very different symptoms in men and women
In humans, in 90% of cases, the symptoms of myocardial infarction are clear and are manifested in particular by violent and intense pain in the chest which radiates into the left arm and shoulder. Heavy sweating is often present.
In women, on the other hand, the symptoms of myocardial infarction are in 70% of cases not very marked in terms of intensity and also manifest themselves in the form of back pain, sleep disorders, pain in the neck. and jaw, fatigue, heartburn or nausea and vomiting. These non-specific symptoms are often confused with other diseases.
As we know that a heart attack is an absolute medical emergency, every minute counts to save the patient’s life, so women run a higher risk than men at this crucial moment.
Women take an average of 12.5 minutes longer than men to reach the emergency room after a myocardial infarction.
Infarction in women: signs already evident 12 months before the crisis
In women, the first symptoms or signs of a myocardial infarction can appear several months before the attack. The majority of women complained of significant symptoms up to 12 months before the infarction. These symptoms are often (unusual) fatigue, trouble sleeping and difficulty breathing. Other symptoms may be present such as tingling in the arms, pain, anxiety or even digestive disorders.
Rodriguez: Coronary Plaque Burden at Coronary CT Angiography in Asymptomatic Men and Women. Radiology doi: 10.1148/radiol.2015142551.