Systematic review of cardiovascular disease in women: assessing the risk

Nurs Health Sci. 2011 Dec;13(4):529-35. doi: 10.1111/j.1442-2018.2011.00645.x. Epub 2011 Nov 9.


Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death for women. In an effort to reduce cardiovascular burden for women, identifying risk factors and increasing awareness of sex differences are fundamental. This systematic review examines cardiovascular disease risk for women. A search of the literature was undertaken using key health databases. Search terms used were cardiovascular disease AND women OR gender. Additional references were manually identified from this literature; 58 articles were reviewed in total. On average, cardiovascular disease presents 10 years later in women compared to men. By this time, they are more likely to suffer from more comorbidities, placing them at higher risk. The complexity of cardiovascular disease identification in women is accentuated through atypical symptoms, and has the potential to lead to delayed and/or misdiagnosis. It is clear through identifying sex differentiation in cardiovascular risk factors that there has been an increased awareness of symptom presentation for women. In light of the sex differences in risk factors, sex-specific aspects should be more intensively considered in research/practice to improve clinical outcomes for female cardiovascular disease patients.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Hypercholesterolemia / blood
  • Hypertension
  • Life Style
  • Motor Activity
  • Nutritional Status
  • Risk Assessment*
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Women's Health*