According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 17.9 million people die because of cardiovascular diseases every year. Out of these deaths, 80% occur due to coronary heart diseases (such as a heart attack) and cerebrovascular diseases (such as strokes). Many people assume that men are more affected by a heart attack than women.
But, in their digital conference of 2020, the European Society of Cardiology stated that women are more likely to die after a heart attack than men. But that stands true only for women post-menopause, which means after their menses have stopped.
Estrogen protects women from heart diseases
The European scientists conducted a study on 2,000 patients, 1,778 men and 222 women under the age of 45 years, who were admitted to the hospital with the complaint of a heart attack between 1998 and 2002. It was also noted that smoking, alcohol consumption, high cholesterol levels and diabetes were more prevalent in men than women.
After a follow-up of 20 years, it was found that women were less likely to have a second heart attack as compared to men. However, the cases of strokes were higher in women. The scientists stated that the better prognosis in women was due to the fact that women have healthier arteries. It was found that in men, cardiac issues arose due to blocked arteries while in women they occurred due to other reasons such as coronary dissection, which has a better chance of getting treated with a lower risk of recurring.
The scientists further added that women, prior to menopause, have an apt amount of estrogen in their body, which protects the heart from all the possible damage.
Radiomics: A better technique to scan heart diseases in women
It is an established fact that men and women’s organs are different due to different levels of hormones in their body. But this makes it difficult for doctors to diagnose cardiac issues in women as they may present with symptoms that are different from those seen in men.
It has been reported that women suffer more from tissue damage, scarring and stiffness in the muscle whereas men have a coarse heart muscle with a larger surface.
However, a new in-depth scanning method called radiomics can help in visualising the condition of the heart in a better way. Radiomics is already being used in diagnosing cancer.
To test the effectiveness of this imaging technique, scientists did MRI scans on the hearts of 309 men and 358 women in the age group of 45 to 74.
After that, the scientists used radiomics to examine the left ventricle, which is the main pumping chamber of the heart.
It was seen that the heart muscles of the older females appeared brighter in radiomics scans, which may indicate damage and stiffness.
With this study, the scientists concluded that this could be one of the reasons why women suffer from a condition where their heart pumps normally but is unable to get enough blood around the body. This is the reason for heart failure in at least half of the cases in females.
The scientists believe that this scan can help in diagnosing women, and men, faster and more accurately.
For more information, read our article on Women’s health.
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