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A woman’s heart is different from a man’s: Stress, fertility treatments & menopause can enhance cardiac risks


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A woman’s body undergoes a lot of changes throughout her lifetime. Right from hitting puberty to aging and experiencing menopause, the body undergoes physical, physiological, and hormonal changes through every single phase.

The CDC reports that 1 in every 6 women above the age of 20 is diagnosed with coronary heart disease, the most common form of cardiovascular ailment in the global population. This shows that like every other difference in the body’s anatomy and physiology, a woman’s heart is also different from men’s.

Recent medical advancements suggest that factors like stress, fertility treatments, and menopause contribute to women’s heightened cardiac risks. This article will explore the different risk factors of cardiac diseases and how they can be managed efficiently.

How is a Woman’s Heart Different than a Man’s?

When it comes to the anatomical appearance and significance, a woman’s heart might hold a similar resemblance but it varies in substantial ways.

Read through the following pointers and analyze how many of these facts did you know of:

  • A woman’s heart is smaller than that of a man’s. The internal chambers are comparatively smaller and have thinner walls separating each chamber in the organ.
  • A woman’s heart beats a lot quicker than that of a man. Reports also suggest that the ejection fraction in women is also 10% less due to the faster heart rate. This means that with every squeeze of the heart muscles, the organ expels 10% less blood than men.
  • Stress in women contributes to quickened pulse rate, which leads to excess blood being pumped out of the heart. In the case of men, the arteries constrict under stress, leading to risks of high blood pressure.

Besides these basic differences in terms of size, density, and functioning, heart diseases in women often manifest in different ways than it does in men. Since women are also subjected to additional complications of stress, infertility treatments, and menopause, the list of cardiovascular-related complications is quite diverse and often very challenging.

How does Heart Disease Manifest in Women Compared to Men?

The differences between a man’s and woman’s hearts are different both anatomically and physiologically (in certain aspects). However, the differences extend to the manifestation of heart diseases as well.

Here’s what you need to know:

Misleading symptoms

Women who often undergo cardiac-supportive treatments for chest pain might not even need them in the first place. The symptoms during a heart attack in women don’t always manifest as the typical cardiac chest pain. Women also have lesser chances of undergoing procedures like bypass surgery or angioplasty.

Heightened risks of blockages

The incidence of blockages in the coronary arteries is more in women than in men. The same can be a result of atherosclerosis, spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD), or microvascular angina. Getting immediate treatment for such a diagnosis is crucial to avoid the risks of a heart attack in the future.

Fertility treatments

With the rising incidence of infertility globally, men and women are now actively seeking different fertility treatments to support their chances of a natural conception. These often lead to heightened risks of heart diseases in women. This is one of the reasons why women undergoing infertility treatment need to get a thorough cardiovascular evaluation before the initiation of the procedures.

Impacts of menopause

Menopause increases the incidence of heart attacks and heart diseases in women. This is primarily because the onset of menopause often makes several women susceptible to risks of high blood pressure, which later leads to heart diseases, heart attacks, blockages, or sudden cardiac death.


Emotional stressors affect men and women differently. Studies have found that the emotional responses, including childcare, professional stress, and familial conflicts, are often more common in women than in men. The impacts of psychosocial stress are often more in women, which can later lead to complications in heart functions.

Prioritizing holistic health evaluation is thus crucial to reducing the risks of heart attacks and cardiovascular complications in both men and women.

How to Support Heart Health in Women?

Taking care of one’s health is the first step to reducing the risks of a heart attack or complicated heart disease. As women are more susceptible to developing heart complications owing to varying reasons, there are certain factors one should be mindful of.

The following points should give you an idea about effective ways to support heart health in women:

Get Annual Check-ups

Lack of diagnosis is one of the leading contributors to cardiac deaths every year. It is time that we stop being passive and have direct communication about our health. Awareness of the important numbers about one’s heart is crucial to averting the risks of a sudden cardiac arrest, which is becoming more common worldwide.

Pay Attention to the Symptoms

Women’s heart attack symptoms are often different than that of a man’s. Instead of sharp chest pains, most women experience back pain in the upper left region, a common sign of heart attack. Other classic symptoms include tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, etc.

Prioritize Sleep

Sleep is the foundation of our body’s recovery. Our cells and tissues repair themselves overnight while we sleep. It also reduces emotional stressors and other risk factors, including high blood pressure, blockages, etc. So, ensure that you get 6-8 hours of sleep to support your overall heart health.

Stress Management

Over time, a woman’s body undergoes a range of complications related to stress, including the stress from work, taking care of children, personal emotional conflicts, etc. Stress is a leading contributor to heart disease, and the possible triggers like high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, overeating, a sedentary lifestyle, etc. Hence, managing stress is crucial to keeping a woman’s heart in the best shape and function.

These are some of the best ways to manage a woman’s heart disease-related symptoms. If you are experiencing something amiss with your body, don’t brush those under the rug. Sometimes, taking early precautions can avert several fatal complications in the future.


How does a woman detect if she has heart problems?

Heart disease-related symptoms often manifest in multiple ways. Common symptoms include pain and stiffness in either the left arm or both arms. Sometimes, the discomfort is paired with shortness of breath, persistent coughing, back pain, profuse sweating, etc. Always discuss these signs with the doctor for a definitive diagnosis of what’s wrong.

What does angina feel like in women?

Angina in women causes symptoms like pressing and squeezing of the heart muscles, feeling a crushing pain, etc., in the arms, back, etc.

What does heart blockage feel like?

A heart blockage generally showcases symptoms like chest pain, tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, tunnel vision, etc.


Women often take their health for granted, especially after menopause. However, you need to realize that heart diseases and complications are as severe in women as it is in men. So, instead of taking the symptoms for granted, take note of them and discuss a possible line of diagnosis and treatment for the same. 

Somapika Dutta (B.Sc Physiology, Honours)
Somapikar holds Bachelors Degree in Physiology from University of Culcutta. She has 6+ years of experience writing in different niches, including health, tech and lifestyle. An animal enthusiast and a raging foodie, experiencing life - one day at a time.


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