When it Comes to Matters of the Heart, Women are Different


It’s true, when it comes to cardiovascular disease (CVD), which includes heart disease, stroke, heart failure, angina, heart attack and atrial fibrillation; women ARE different from men in many respects.  For instance, cardiovascular disease normally develops 7 to 10 years later in women than men.  Generally, women that are pre-menopausal have less CVD than men due to the protective effect of estrogen, so a later onset CVD makes sense.1

Following menopause the risk of heart disease and stroke increases.  Total blood cholesterol increases, while HDL falls and LDL rises.2 Statistically, the prevalence of hypertension increases in women over 60 years of age and outpaces men of the same age.3

On the BIOSmedical.com site, we have outlined many differences in the document: “Women’s Heart-a-Facts: 22 Facts Women should know about CVD risk”.

Even symptoms during a heart attack frequently differ from mens. Men typically describe “crushing chest pain” while women describe it as “tightness, pressure, and burning”; along with non-chest symptoms including shortness of breath, fatigue, weakness, nausea and discomfort in the upper back and shoulders. 4

Top heart attack symptoms in women

One Month before a heart attack

During a heart attack

Unusual fatigue (71%)

Shortness of breath (58%)

Sleep disturbance (48%)

Weakness (55%)

Shortness of breath (42%)

Unusual Fatigue (43%)

Indigestion (39%)

Cold Sweat (39%)

Anxiety (36%)

Dizziness (39%

Heart Racing (27%)

Nausea (36%)

Arms weak/ heavy (25%)

Arms weak/ heavy (35%)

Source: Harvard Health (2017)6

Accurate Blood Pressure Measurement is the Key

The most common risk factor for CVD is hypertension.  Understanding your real-average blood pressure is a simple step in helping prevent a serious cardiovascular event like a heart attack or stroke.

Monitoring blood pressure at home provides high quality, accurate information about whether hypertension is controlled.  With this information, a health care professional will interpret the data and suggest treatment modifications to control blood pressure in the acceptable target range.

At BIOS medical we are committed to raising the awareness of Women’s cardiovascular health in Canada.

See: “22 Heart-a-Facts: 22 Facts Women Should Know About Cardiovascular Disease” in the Blog section at www.biosmedical.com


  1. Ms. Understood (2018) Ms. Understood Women’s hearts are victims of a system that is ill-equipped to diagnose, treat and support them. Heart and Stroke. https://www.heartandstroke.ca/-/media/pdf-files/canada/2018-heart-month/hs_2018-heart-report_en.ashx


  1. About Heart Disease. (n.d.). WHHI - Women’s Healthy Heart Initiative. Retrieved May 4, 2022, from http://whhionline.ca/education/about-heart-disease/
  2. Jaffer, S. et al., (2020, October 15). The Canadian Women’s Heart Health Alliance ATLAS on the Epidemiology, Diagnosis, and Management of Cardiovascular Disease in Women—Chapter 2: Scope of the Problem. CJC Open3(1), 1–11. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cjco.2020.10.009
  3. Maas, A. H. E. M., & Appelman, Y. E. A. (2010, December 18). Gender differences in coronary heart disease. Netherlands Heart Journal18 (12), 598–603. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12471-010-0841-y

Norris, C. M. et al., (2020, February 17). State of the Science in Women’s Cardiovascular Disease: A Canadian Perspective on the Influence of Sex and Gender. Journal of the American Heart Association9(4). https://doi.org/10.1161/jaha.119.015634


Harvard Health Publishing. (2017, March 25). Gender matters: Heart disease risk in women - Harvard Health. Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/gender-matters-heart-disease-risk-in-women‌

Women’s unique risk factors. (2018). Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. https://www.heartandstroke.ca/heart-disease/risk-and-prevention/womens-unique-risk-factors

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