Circ J 2010 Jul 15;74(7):1265-73. Epub 2010 Jun 15.
Institute of Gender in Medicine and Center for Cardiovascular Research, Charité University Medicine Berlin, Germany.
Heart failure (HF) is a leading cause of cardiovascular mortality and morbidity in the Western world. It affects men at younger age than women. Women have more frequently diastolic HF, associated with the major risk factors of diabetes and hypertension and men have more frequently systolic HF because of coronary artery disease. Under stress, male hearts develop more easily pathological hypertrophy with dilatation and poor systolic function than female hearts. Women with aortic stenosis have more concentric hypertrophy with better systolic function, less upregulation of extracellular matrix genes and better reversibility after unloading. Stressed female hearts maintain energy metabolism better than male hearts and are better protected against calcium overload. Estrogens and androgens and their receptors are present in the myocardium and lead to coordinated regulation of functionally relevant pathways. Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a more ominous sign in women than in men. Men with end-stage cardiomyopathy more frequently have auto-antibodies than women. Women receive less guideline-based diagnostics and therapy. Expensive and invasive therapies such as advanced pacemakers and transplantation are underused in women. Drug studies point at sex differences in efficacy. Despite worse diagnostics and therapy, prognosis is better in women than in men.