Historically, say the Western researchers, heart disease was assumed to be a male disease. Evidence has shown, though, that post-menopausal women are just as likely to develop heart disease as men but are less likely to be properly diagnosed.
Post-menopausal women are just as likely to develop heart disease as men but are less likely to be properly diagnosed.
The study finds that women who have a form of GPER that does not function correctly increases their risk of developing high blood pressure.
By comparing patients referred to a tertiary care clinic at London Health Sciences Centre, the researchers found that women, but not men, carrying the GPER variant had higher blood pressure.
Also, in a "hard-to-treat blood pressure clinic," where lead author Dr. Ross Feldman is a physician, almost half of the attending women expressed the variant gene.
Dr. Feldman and colleagues also found that twice as many women carried the gene than men with blood pressure that was difficult to treat.
"This is one step in understanding the effects of estrogen on heart disease, and understanding why some women are more prone to heart attack and stroke than others," Dr. Feldman says. "Our work is a step forward in developing approaches to treating heart disease in this under-appreciated group of patients."
Play the video below to see Dr. Feldman discussing his research.
Last month, Medical News Today reported on research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, which found that young women are more than twice as likely to suffer from major cardiac problems if they have moderate or severe depression.
Fast facts on women's heart disease
- More women than men die of heart disease each year
- Heart disease symptoms in women may be different from those in men. Women's symptoms may occur more often when women are resting, or even when asleep
- Low levels of estrogen after menopause pose a significant risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease in the smaller blood vessels.
The senior author of that study, Dr. Viola Vaccarino, PhD, said:
"Although the risks and benefits of routine screening for depression are still unclear, our study suggests that young women may benefit for special consideration. Unfortunately, this group has largely been understudied before."
The symptoms of coronary heart disease, for instance, are broader in women than they are in men - something that was not previously well understood. In women with heart disease, pain may not be located in the chest, and the patterns and distribution of pain symptoms may be different from symptoms typically experienced by men.
Microvascular disease - a non-obstructive form of coronary heart disease where the arteries spasm and block the flow of blood to the heart - has also been shown to be more common in women.