Gender differences in cardiovascular disease: hormonal and biochemical influences

Reprod Sci. 2010 Jun;17(6):511-31. doi: 10.1177/1933719110367829.


Objective: Atherosclerosis is a complex process characterized by an increase in vascular wall thickness owing to the accumulation of cells and extracellular matrix between the endothelium and the smooth muscle cell wall. There is evidence that females are at lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) as compared to males. This has led to an interest in examining the contribution of genetic background and sex hormones to the development of CVD. The objective of this review is to provide an overview of factors, including those related to gender, that influence CVD.

Methods: Evidence analysis from PubMed and individual searches concerning biochemical and endocrine influences and gender differences, which affect the origin and development of CVD.

Results: Although still controversial, evidence suggests that hormones including estradiol and androgens are responsible for subtle cardiovascular changes long before the development of overt atherosclerosis.

Conclusion: Exposure to sex hormones throughout an individual's lifespan modulates many endocrine factors involved in atherosclerosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Androgens / physiology
  • Animals
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Estradiol / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sex Factors


  • Androgens
  • Estradiol