The gender gap in heart disease: lessons from Eastern Europe

Am J Public Health. 2003 May;93(5):768-70. doi: 10.2105/ajph.93.5.768.


Why are men more susceptible to heart disease than women? Traditional risk factors cannot explain the gender gap in coronary heart disease (CHD) or the rapid increase in CHD mortality among middle-aged men in many of the newly independent states of Eastern Europe. However, Eastern European men score higher on stress-related psychosocial factors than men living in the West. Comparisons between the sexes also reveal differences in psychosocial and behavioral coronary risk factors favoring women, indicating that women's coping with stressful events may be more cardioprotective. Men's greater susceptibility to heart disease, particularly observable in many Eastern European countries, poses unique threats to public health and points to solutions in the behavioral and social arena.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Cause of Death
  • Coronary Disease / mortality*
  • Coronary Disease / psychology*
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Europe, Eastern / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Expectancy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Public Health*
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk Reduction Behavior
  • Risk-Taking
  • Sex Distribution
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Change
  • Social Support
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control