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Gender and Heart Failure

Dr. Thomas Hooten, CDC, Public Health Image Library, Public Domain


Heart failure (HF) is a complex syndrome that is generally defined as cardiac function inadequate to meet the metabolic demands of the body [17]. HF is considered to be at the end of the cardiovascular disease continuum, often preceded by myocardial infarction, hypertension, congenital heart disease and idiopathic causes [18]. HF can result in forced dependency, depression, and the inability to perform activities of daily living. The result of this is often a drastic reduction in quality of life (QoL). Due to differences in the cardiovascular system, HF affects men and women in different ways [13]. Currently, the mechanisms underlying these gender related differences remain unresolved, however research is underway to discover their root causes [13].





After completing this module, you will be able to:

  • outline the severity of congestive heart failure (CHF) and how prevalent it is in North America and around the world

  • describe the fundamental differences in how CHF manifests itself in men and women

  • explain sex and gender difference in the impact of CHF symptoms on men and women

  • explain how the necessary lifestyle changes of HF patients effect men and women

  • describe how a gender sensitive treatment plan and self-management program can benefit patients 

  • describe how gender bias can affect the choice of treatment by health care professionals

We hope that after completing this module you will be able to apply your understanding of gender to consider other medical conditions from a gender perspective.




13. Schonfelder G. The biological impact of estrogens on gender differences in congestive heart failure. Cardiovascular Research 2005'67:573-574.

17. Schocken DD, Arrieta MI, Leaverton PE, Ross EA. Prevalence and mortality rate of congestive heart failure in the United States. J Am Coll Cardiol. 1992;20:301-306.

18. Piano M. The pathophysiology of chronic heart failure. In: Steward S, Moser DK, Thomson, eds. Caring for the heart failure patient. London: Martin Dunitz Publishers; 2002.

All references for this section