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5 Facts About Women's Heart Health

        Health | Heart

5
Women are More Likely to Die of a Heart Attack
Men and women both develop fatty plaque buildup in their large coronary arteries; however, women's bodies build up plaque in a manner that's often more difficult to detect.
Men and women both develop fatty plaque buildup in their large coronary arteries; however, women's bodies build up plaque in a manner that's often more difficult to detect.
AP Photo/Bill Kaczor

That's right. According to WomenHeart.org, the National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease, Women are more likely to die of a heart attack than men are, and their quality of life post-attack is usually worse than men's if they survive. Recent research suggests that this might be because heart disease in women is different from heart disease in men, and the "classic" tests and symptoms might not catch the trouble.

Writing for the Los Angeles Times, Kendall Powell describes how both men and women can develop fatty plaque buildup in their large coronary arteries, creating a blockage that blood can't pass through. But women may be more likely to develop cardiovascular disease in the microvessels, or tiny arteries, of the heart. If these little blood vessels don't function properly under stress to allow enough blood to the heart, the result is the same as a blocked artery: heart attack.

When women's bodies build up plaque in the larger arteries, it's usually formed in a thin layer all along the walls of the blood vessel rather than a big, lumpy block. When doctors perform an angiogram to test for heart disease, the blood is still flowing evenly, making detection of the plaque difficult. But as the vessel narrows, it constricts the blood flow. If it closes, it can result in a heart attack.

There are other risk factors involved in heart disease that we'll discuss next.


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