Harvard Heart Letter

The heart attack gender gap

Heart attacks strike men at younger ages than women. But survival rates are worse in women. Why?

heart attack gender gap
Compared with men, women are less likely to recognize and act upon the symptoms of a heart attack.
Image: zaganDesign/Thinkstock

Imagine someone in the throes of a heart attack. If you picture a man clutching his chest in agony, that's understandable. At younger ages, men face a greater risk of heart disease than women. On average, a first heart attack—the most common manifestation of this prevalent disease—strikes men at age 65. For women, the average age of a first heart attack is 72.

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