Heart Disease Differences in Men and Women

As the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States, heart disease is not unique to one sex. We all need to recognize symptoms of coronary artery disease, heart attack, heart failure and other conditions, but there are differences in how and when heart disease presents in men compared to women.

“The heart conditions that we see in males, we also see in females but unfortunately, we often see them later,” said CHI St. Vincent Hot Springs cardiologist Dr. Oyidie Igbokidi.

Often prioritizing the health of their children or spouse, women tend to delay their own doctor’s appointments or treatment for heart disease. For men and women alike, preventative care and early detection are the key to managing a serious heart condition.

“We know that high blood pressure, high cholesterol, atrial fibrillation and any other arrhythmias are equally as prevalent in women as they are in men,” said Dr. Igbokidi. “It might be even more prevalent in women just due to the fact that we’re not getting care as quickly or as early as men.”

Heart attack is one of the most common heart conditions in men and women with more than 800,000 heart attacks in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Chest pain is the symptom most associated with a heart attack, but women can also experience other less obvious symptoms and warning signs such as fainting, indigestion or extreme fatigue.

“Just from the nature of their body structure, women tend to have smaller coronary vessels than men,” Dr. Igbokidi said. “That’s the most common difference we see when patients come in with a heart attack and it can present much differently in women than it does in men.”

Regardless of how or when it presents, quick treatment for a heart attack is necessary for both male and female patients. Seek emergency care immediately if you find yourself experiencing the signs and symptoms of a heart attack.

“Time is muscle,” said Dr. Igbokidi. “If you’re having a heart attack, you need emergency care as quickly as possible. Don’t get in your car and drive. Don’t have your husband or your wife or your friend drive you. Call 911.”

As part of the CHI St. Vincent Heart Institute, Dr. Igbokidi and the team of cardiologists and heart surgeons at the CHI St. Vincent Hot Springs Heart Center provide the diversity of expertise necessary to treat each patient’s specific condition. With a support team including nurses, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, physical therapists, social workers and dieticians, our patients get comprehensive care tailored to their individual health concerns and wellbeing.

“We’re one team with one goal and that goal is all about the patient,” Dr. Igbokidi said. “Putting patients first is what matters.” To learn more about heart disease differences in men and women, and our wide range of heart services available across the state, visit: chistvincent.com/heart