by Melissa Chichester
A woman’s heart looks exactly the same as a man’s – but there are a few differences. For starters, a woman’s heart is typically smaller. A woman’s heart also pumps faster than a man’s but pushes out less blood. A woman’s heart also has smaller chambers and finer veins.
A heart attack happens when cholesterol builds up in the walls of arteries. Researchers now know that for men, cholesterol tends to build up in the largest arteries of the heart. For women, build-up typically occurs in the smallest blood vessels.
These differences do matter – especially since it is a long-standing myth that women don’t have to worry about heart health.
The truth is heart health impacts both genders. Furthermore, heart disease remains a leading cause of death for both men AND women. So what should each gender know?
One of the most important things to know about heart health is that the signs of a heart attack are not the same for women as they are for men.
Men may experience:
Women may experience:
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, “women can develop symptoms that are subtler and harder to detect” when it comes to heart attacks.
This is only one reason why it is so important to understand heart health differences between men and women.
And if you think you are experiencing a heart attack, call 911 immediately.
Many risk factors for heart disease for men and women are similar, including:
However, other gender-specific factors may come into play. For example, if a woman develops certain conditions during pregnancy, this may play a role or be connected to heart disease risk factors. Only a doctor will be able to determine if this is a concern or risk.
Because heart health issues impact so many people, it’s important to adopt a heart-healthy lifestyle early on. It isn’t only an issue for seniors or middle-aged people. Heart health problems can impact anyone.
How to support your heart right now:
If this seems overwhelming, don’t worry. Taking small steps toward better heart health can have a big impact on not only your heart but also your confidence and overall well-being. Making small changes over time is more effective than trying to do it all at once, feeling overwhelmed, and quitting.
You can support your heart health daily through nutrition, exercise, and being proactive about your heart by working with a doctor. Knowing the heart health differences between men and women can also help support your needs and may even help when you need it most.