Gender specific medicine

Heart disease is still the number one killer of women, with one in three affected.

Gender specific medicine

Heart disease is still the number one killer of women, with one in three affected. Women are more at risk of heart disease after menopause and experience different symptoms of a heart attack to men.

Research shows women are far more concerned about heart attacks for the men in their lives than themselves. However, after menopause women are equally at risk as men. Being unaware of the risk places women at greater risk of ignoring a heart attack if it happens.

Women are often unaware that they are experiencing a heart attack and may not get help immediately, resulting in greater heart damage. Being aware of how women experience heart attacks may just save a life – either yours or someone who you care about.

There is new evidence of the protective role of oestrogen, which explains why women’s risk of heart disease and stoke increases after menopause, as oestrogen levels decline.

Associate Professor Chris Sobey from Monash University believes that oestrogen holds the key to improving the outcomes in women after a stroke. The Monash team has found that activating an oestrogen receptor in women who have had a stroke improves their recovery; but when the same receptor is activated in men, they show worse outcomes.

This ground-breaking finding is based on a new understanding that men and women are different right down to the cellular level. Women, it seems, show different susceptibility to disease than men. For example, non-smoking women are three times more susceptible to lung cancer that men, but if they receive appropriate care, show better survival rates.

In addition, women may need different investigations for diseases such as heart disease. It seems that heart disease in men is more visible, such as a blockage, on standard investigations. However, women lay down plaque within the arteries more evenly and therefore need investigations that are more sensitive, such as an intra-coronary ultrasound.

This can be critical information that can save a women’s life.

One of the reasons why we don’t know a lot about effective treatments for women is that drug trials do not separate data between men and women. This leaves us none the wiser about the different responses between the sexes and therefore, which treatments are more effective for women.  

This new and emerging era of personalised medicine, including differences between men and women, promises exciting new insights and effective treatments for women. And it will also broaden our understanding of women’s health.

Published with the permission of Jean Hailes for Women's Health
1800 JEAN HAILES (532 642)

To find out what signs women should be on the lookout for, should they suspect they are having a heart attack, read this woman's first-hand account.


    To make a comment, please register or login
    20th Jun 2014
    This article does not deliver what it advertises. "What to look out for".......where is this?
    20th Jun 2014
    Doesn't say much at all!
    Debbie McTaggart
    20th Jun 2014
    As noted, there is further information about the symptoms of a female heart attack on the Jean Hailes website, however, I have also now included a link to a further article you may find useful.
    20th Jun 2014
    An excellent article which should make women think a little more about their health, heart disease, heart attack symptoms, etc. Thanks YLC for publishing this article, I found it quite refreshing.

    Strugglingcouple and iamnotold:

    If you need to know more, read the last two paragraphs again of this article and then click on the blue writing this is an excellent website.
    You can also look up the heart foundation website and of course visit your GP.
    20th Jun 2014
    If oestrogen is the key, how do you activate it in post menopausal stage in women????
    20th Jun 2014
    HRT and this protects your bones and also lowers the incidence of bowel cancer. The small increase in the likelihood of breast cancer is probably well offset by the positives (there are others). But it is ultimately a personal choice. Discuss this with your doctor, but be aware that some doctors are anti HRT.
    20th Jun 2014
    well what are the different symptoms ?

    The ones on JH's web site are no different to men so please enlighten us.

    The one example does not help at all when there are multiple issues.

    There is a difference between informing people and filling a page with words.
    21st Jun 2014
    I have to agree with Struggling couple. The article didn't tell much at all, we know that women have different. Symptoms
    But what a re they???? How abt some information on the. Symptoms that women experience,

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