Men Have Bigger Hearts than Women

At least men who have undergone aortic valve replacement surgery

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Heart enlargement caused by narrowed aortic valves regresses faster in women than in men following aortic valve replacement surgery, according to a new study.

The slower recovery time in men may be due to genetic differences that cause the heart to develop more fibrous tissue in men. The study revealed that men and women "differ in their gene expression related to fibrous heart tissue," said Vera Regitz-Zagrosek, M.D., study co-author and director of the Institute of Gender in Medicine at Charite University of Medicine in Berlin.

Narrowed aortic valves (known as aortic stenosis) limits blood flow through the aortic valve. The condition has several causes, including congenital defects and calcification of the flaps that control the flow of blood through the valve. Fibrous tissue results from hypertension and causes heart enlargement.

The study followed 92 patients (53 women with an average age of 72 and 39 men with an average age of 67).

Results also indicated a higher frequency in increased left-ventricular mass in women than in men prior to surgery and a higher prevalence of thyroid disorders, which may or may not have influenced impaired heart growth, in women.

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Review Date: 
January 28, 2011
Last Updated:
January 28, 2011