Did that title grab your attention?  No naughtiness involved. The University welcomed a new professor, Heather Allison.  Her inaugural lecture addressed gender issues and heart disease.

Everyone has a heart.  When it is formed in the womb it begins to beat.  It doesn’t stop for the lifetime of a human being, this little muscle the size of your fist.

Coronary heart disease takes an American life every 40 seconds.  Death is on a schedule here.  Heart disease causes one in seven deaths, compared to breast cancer which kills one in thirty deaths.  One in three men will die of heart disease, one in five women.  Statistically Australia / New Zealand has higher stroke deaths than America, otherwise we are comparable.

Death from cardiovascular disease is falling.  There are a lot of factors, including diet, and the trend could turn around and bite us yet.  We eat too much energy dense food, if we can’t work it off we store it as body fat.  (Another chocolate chip muffin? Why, thank you!)

Heart disease becomes more prevalent 10 years earlier for men than women, from their mid-forties onwards.  (I’ve entered the danger zone.)  When the symptons occur among women it’s more likely to die from it.  Men are more likely to have heart attacks caused by a rupture in the plaque hardening their arteries: symptomatic of a classic heart attack; women are more likely to have heart attacks caused by erosive plaque.

Testosterone protects men.  Men with low testosterone are more likely to have heart disease.  Hormone replacement therapy did not protect against heart disease in older women.  Estrogen treatment caused plaque, a higher risk of coronary events.  Heart disease appears to be different among women.  There is more study needed here; and that brings us to the inauguration of our latest professor.

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