Heart Health: Men’s and Women’s Hearts Age Differently

Men and women differ in many ways, but new research has discovered that our hearts age in different ways.

Your heart is an extremely hard-working machine. About 2,000 gallons of blood gets pumped through it as it beats about 100,000 times per day, which is why keeping it healthy is so important.

The "hearty" differences became apparent after scientists studied nearly 3,000 adults for about 10 years. By the end of the study, published online in the journal Radiology, the researchers found that male and female hearts grow differently over time. The study focused on the left ventricle, one of the heart’s chambers, which is the one that pumps oxygenated blood out of the heart into the body. As we age, the left ventricle loses some of its capacity to pump blood.

However, the researchers found that this decline occurs differently in men and women.  In men, the heart muscle around the left ventricle becomes larger and thicker with age, while in women the muscle maintains its size or gets smaller, the researchers discovered. It is not yet known why these differences occur, but this discrepancy may help researchers determine whether gender-specific therapies are necessary for men and women who have heart problems. Currently, male and female hearts are treated much the same way.

"Our results are a striking demonstration of the concept that heart disease may have different pathophysiology in men and women, and of the need for tailored treatments that address such important biologic differences," study author Dr. João Lima, a professor of medicine and radiological science at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, said in a statement.

The long-term research using MRI scans to observe left ventricle structure and function over time, was the first study of its kind. Previous studies have tested people's hearts using ultrasound scans, but MRI scans are more detailed.

The study included 2,935 adults ages 45 to 84 years. None of the participants had cardiovascular diseases when they enrolled in the study. The doctors performed an MRI scan on each participant at the beginning and end of the study.

The sex-related differences suggest that "men and women may develop [heart] disease for different reasons," said lead investigator Dr. John Eng, an associate professor of radiological science at Johns Hopkins.

Good for the future of heart care

The results of this research may help doctors create actual gender-specific treatments, according to the scientists. As an example, cardiologists often prescribe medications that reduce the thickness of heart muscle in people with heart failure. This treatment might not benefit women as much as it does men, given that women's heart muscle tends to shrink or stay the same size over time, from what we have seen with the new findings.

The study is part of an ongoing, long-term project named the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Researchers plan to continue following the nearly 7,000 people of different ethnic backgrounds who are enrolled, and studying factors that influence these people's heart diseases and failures, the investigators said.

Keep your heart healthier before serious problems arise. Eating well and exercising is always the basis for better heath. You may also supplement your diet to help you toward better health.

Current research demonstrates that omega-3 fatty acids can help prevent and reduce plaque formation inside arteries, lower harmful cholesterol (LDL) and triglyceride levels, enhance the protective effects of cholesterol (HDL), decrease inflammation, and lessen the likelihood of forming a clot.  Omega-3’s are superior to Omega-6 and Omega-9’s because they feed the anti-inflammatory cascade, where as the others can actually contribute to inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in wild Alaskan salmon, grass-fed beef, chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, fish oil and cod liver oil.

One way to keep your Omegas in balance is to take one supplement a day. We recommend our  Omega 3-6-9 Complete™ (click here to view) . This is a comprehensive blend of Fish Oil, Borage Oil, and Organic Flax Seed Oil. This combination provides a unique balance of Omega-3 and Omega 6, plus Omega-9 and Vitamin E.

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