Harvard Health Letter

His and hers heart disease

Mounting evidence makes a case for a gender-based approach to heart disease.

It's often been said that matters of the heart affect men and women differently. However, medical research isn't focusing on who hails from Mars and who from Venus, but on gender distinctions in earthly anatomy and physiology and their influence on heart disease.

This is a change from the first decades of clinical research in cardiology, which all but excluded women, although the lessons learned brought advances in prevention and treatment that have benefited both sexes. It's hard to blame medical researchers for overlooking women: maleness long ranked near the top of the list of risk factors, although it's in danger of losing that dubious distinction. In the United States, the annual number of deaths from cardiovascular disease (heart disease and strokes) is now greater in women than in men.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »