[Gender and cardiovascular diseases : Why we need gender medicine]

Internist (Berl). 2017 Apr;58(4):336-343. doi: 10.1007/s00108-017-0214-3.
[Article in German]


Gender medicine is concerned with the question of why diseases are expressed differently in the genders. It takes differences between men and women into account, which are often neglected by traditional medicine. Sex differences can also be found in cardiovascular diseases; therefore, risk factors for cardiovascular diseases have a different significance depending on the sex. Diabetic diseases tend to promote the occurrence of coronary heart disease (CHD) more strongly in women than in men. Myocardial infarctions affect women 10 years later than men and young women are often treated too late, possibly because myocardial infarction is consider to be a "male disease". The number of cases of coronary syndrome is significantly increasing, particularly in young women. Some of the diseases which predominantly occur in women are takotsubo cardiomyopathy, microcirculation disorders and spontaneous coronary artery dissection. Pharmacological treatment of CHD is principally the same in men and women but attention must be paid to differences in the pharmacokinetics of important drugs. Coronary dilatation has comparable effects in both men and women but more complications occur in women. Cardiac failure with impaired left ventricular systolic function affects more men than women in the Western world but the opposite is true for cardiac failure with preserved left ventricular ejection fraction. Hypertrophic and dilatative cardiomyopathies are more frequent in men. Many of the drugs used to treat cardiac failure have different actions in men and women. Too little attention is paid to the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics in women when testing active agents; however, awareness of the differences that need to be considered is growing.

Keywords: Angina pectoris; Coronary disease; Death, sudden, cardiac; Heart failure; Risk factors.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Cardiotonic Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / drug therapy
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / etiology
  • Female
  • Heart Failure / drug therapy
  • Heart Failure / etiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Myocardial Infarction / etiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors*


  • Cardiotonic Agents