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While men and women have similar rates of hospitalization due to heart disease, women tend to have longer hospital stays, receive less of the recommended assessment and treatment, and experience greater long-term disability.Women are less likely to return to work following a CVD-related hospital admission and have lower health-related quality of life following an event.In fact, rates of heart disease among younger women (aged 35 to 54) are actually increasing, a trend thought to be attributable to obesity.Rates of heart disease are higher among black women and Hispanic women compared to non-Hispanic Caucasian and Asian women.The macrophages become overwhelmed with the oxidized LDL, try to engulf it, becoming "foam cells." These foam cells trigger the need for further "clean up," and the body tries to sequester the unhealthy foam cells and forms a hard plaque around it.These plaques cause further inflammation within the tissue of the artery wall; this is how atherosclerosis progresses.Researchers who study the gender differences in cardiovascular disease often focus on the protective role of estrogen. It relaxes blood vessels, lowering blood pressure (pre-menopausally).Estrogen blunts the effects of stress hormones (catecholamines) which are vasoactive and cause blood vessel constriction, especially in times of stress. However, estrogen also promotes blood coagulation, which isn't helpful.
Women who undergo early menopause, either due to surgical removal of their ovaries or premature ovarian failure, have similar rates of cardiovascular disease as age-matched men.The blockages are formed by lipid or cholesterol deposits that cause inflammation and form plaques.