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Prog Cardiovasc Dis. 2007 Jan-Feb;49(4):241-51.

Role of gender in heart failure with normal left ventricular ejection fraction.

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Center for Cardiovascular Research, (CCR), Department of Cardiology and Pneumology, University Hospital Benjamin Franklin, Charite - Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany.


Heart failure with normal ejection fraction (HF-NEF) is frequently believed to be more common in women than in men. However, the interaction of gender and age has rarely been analyzed in detail, and knowledge of the distinction between pre- and postmenopausal women is lacking. Some of the studies that have described a higher prevalence of HF-NEF in women relied on clinical diagnoses of HF together with normal systolic function and did not measure diastolic function. This applies to the analysis of patients hospitalized for HF and some epidemiological investigations that agree on the greater prevalence of HF-NEF in women. Population-based studies with echocardiographic determination of diastolic function have suggested equal or greater prevalence of diastolic dysfunction in men. Major risk factors for HF-NEF include hypertension, aging, obesity, diabetes, and ischemia. Hypertension is more frequent in women and can contribute to left ventricular and arterial stiffening in a gender-specific way. Aging, obesity, and diabetes affect myocardial and vascular stiffness differently and lead to different forms of myocardial hypertrophy in women and men. In contrast, ischemia may play a greater role in men. Gender differences in ventricular diastolic distensibility, in vascular stiffness and ventricular/vascular coupling, in skeletal muscle adaptation to HF, and in the perception of symptoms may contribute to a greater rate of HF-NEF in women. The underlying molecular mechanisms include gender differences in calcium handling, in the NO system, and in natriuretic peptides. Estrogen affects collagen synthesis and degradation and inhibits the renin-angiotensin system. Effects of estrogen may provide benefit to premenopausal women, and the loss of its protective mechanisms may render the heart of postmenopausal women more vulnerable. Thus, a number of molecular mechanisms can contribute to the gender differences in HF-NEF.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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