The Canadian Women’s Heart Health Alliance Atlas on the Epidemiology, Diagnosis, and Management of Cardiovascular Disease in Women — Chapter 5: Sex- and Gender-Unique Manifestations of Cardiovascular Disease Academic Article uri icon

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  • This Atlas chapter summarizes sex- and some gender-associated, and unique aspects and manifestations of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in women. CVD is the primary cause of premature death in women in Canada and numerous sex-specific differences related to symptoms and pathophysiology exist. A review of the literature was done to identify sex-specific differences in symptoms, pathophysiology, and unique manifestations of CVD in women. Although women with ischemic heart disease might present with chest pain, the description of symptoms, delay between symptom onset and seeking medical attention, and prodromal symptoms are often different in women, compared with men. Nonatherosclerotic causes of angina and myocardial infarction, such as spontaneous coronary artery dissection are predominantly identified in women. Obstructive and nonobstructive coronary artery disease, aortic aneurysmal disease, and peripheral artery disease have worse outcomes in women compared with men. Sex differences exist in valvular heart disease and cardiomyopathies. Heart failure with preserved ejection fraction is more often diagnosed in women, who experience better survival after a heart failure diagnosis. Stroke might occur across the lifespan in women, who are at higher risk of stroke-related disability and age-specific mortality. Sex- and gender-unique differences exist in symptoms and pathophysiology of CVD in women. These differences must be considered when evaluating CVD manifestations, because they affect management and prognosis of cardiovascular conditions in women.


  • Pacheco, Christine
  • Mullen, Kerri-Anne
  • Coutinho, Thais
  • Jaffer, Shahin
  • Parry, Monica
  • Van Spall, Harriette
  • Clavel, Marie-Annick
  • Edwards, Jodi D
  • Sedlak, Tara
  • Norris, Colleen M
  • Dhukai, Abida
  • Grewal, Jasmine
  • Mulvagh, Sharon L

publication date

  • March 2022