Which gender has the higher risk of a heart attack?

At first, we may perceive that a woman and man’s heart are exactly the same, except for size differences (obviously!). However, medically, there are some significant differences that we should be aware of.


A women’s heart is usually much smaller, including some of the interior chambers of the heart. The walls that divide such chambers are also a lot thinner. Whilst a woman’s heart pumps faster than her male counterparts, it ejects about 10% less blood with each squeeze.

When a woman is stressed, her pulse rate rises and her heart pumps more blood. However, when a man is stressed, the arteries of his heart constrict, raising his blood pressure.

Why do these differences matter? They matter because gender plays a role in the symptoms, treatments and outcomes of coronary artery disease (CAD).

Women have risk factors that men don’t have

There are some diseases that only affect women such as:

  • Endometriosis
  • Polycystic ovary disease
  • Diabetes & high blood pressure developing during pregnancy

All of which contribute to the risk of coronary artery disease which is the leading cause of a heart attack. Endometriosis has been found to raise the risk of developing CAD by 400% in women under the age of 40.

Women share traditional risk factors with men:

  • High blood pressure
  • High sugar levels
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Family history of heart disease

Both men and women are impacted by the above. A female can be impacted more so by family history of heart disease, particularly when a father or brother diagnosed with CAD before age 55, or a mother or sister had been diagnosed before age 65.

Keep an eye out for our next blog which explains more detail on the differences between men and women and their risk of coronary artery disease.