Keep An Eye on the Man In Your Life: Men Have More Heart Attacks Than Women


Statistics tell us that one in every four male deaths is from heart disease. Of all sudden cardiac events, 70% to 90% occur to men. These statistics present a straightforward picture of the great risk men face of heart attack. What remains to be seen is WHY men have more heart attacks than women.

“Heart attacks strike both men and women and stand as the leading cause of death for both genders,” says McLeod Cardiologist Anil Om, MD. “For years, the gap between heart attacks in men and women was attributed to men working in more stressful situations. Yet, as women established a greater role in the workplace, the gap, though narrower, has remained.”


Researchers around the world continue to seek the reason for this difference. Many explanations have been proposed but no definitive answer as yet exists.

  • Cholesterol plays a role, by clogging the arteries and preventing oxygenated blood from reaching the heart. Block the blood flow, a heart attack results.
  • Estrogen, the female hormone, gives women an edge. One effect of estrogen helps develop “good” cholesterol, which protects against heart disease. Of course, when a woman reaches menopause, her estrogen production drops and she loses this advantage.
  • Testosterone, a hormone found in men, is described in some research as an agent that accelerates calcification, the hardening and thickening of blood vessels. (On the reverse side, a new study says that using testosterone therapy on elderly men reduced their risks of strokes, heart attacks and death.)
  • Male Genes with a specific variant on their Y chromosome became the focus of one preliminary study in Britain. Men with the variant registered a 50% increase in heart risk.
  • Risk Factors — such as smoking, bad diet, and lack of exercise, diabetes and excessive alcohol – all contribute to the heart risk of both men and women. Yet, the other risk factors listed here may aggravate the impact of these lifestyle decisions on a man’s heart.

Cautionary Note. More research clearly needs to be undertaken to confirm these suspected reasons or uncover others. Until then, men should understand that they face increased chances of a heart attack.


To reduce your threat of heart attack, control those risks, which you can manage. Lose weight. Eat a better diet. Exercise regularly. And limit your alcohol consumption.

If you are concerned about your heart’s condition, see a cardiologist.

Find a Cardiologist near you.

Sources include: McLeod Health, U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, American College of Cardiology, British Heart Foundation, The Lancet, USC’s Department of Gerontology