Harvard Heart Letter

Women's hearts need extra attention

Diagnosis and treatment of heart disease in women still lags behind that in men.

Does sex matter? The national Institute of Medicine asked that question about human health. The answer, of course, is yes. Nowhere are the differences between men and women more apparent than in matters of the heart.

Women's hearts are built from the same general blueprint as men's and pump blood along the same circuit. But small variations in anatomy and physiology interacting with differences in behavior and culture mean that heart disease in women isn't always diagnosed or treated as promptly or thoroughly as it is in men. New findings reinforce the disparities.

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