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Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology
Volume 2010 (2010), Article ID 562051, 11 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2010/562051
Review Article

What We Know and Do Not Know about Sex and Cardiac Disease

Department of Physiology, Molecular Cardiovascular Research Program, Sarver Heart Center, University of Arizona, 1656 E Mabel, Medical Research Building, Room 320, Tucson, AZ 85724, USA

Received 1 December 2009; Accepted 16 February 2010

Academic Editor: Henk L. M. Granzier

Copyright © 2010 John P. Konhilas. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains the single leading cause of death in both men and women. A large proportion of the population with CVD will die with a diagnosis of congestive heart failure (CHF). It is becoming increasingly recognized that sex differences exist in the etiology, development, and outcome of CHF. For example, compared to male counterparts, women that present with CHF are typically older and have systolic cardiac function that is not impaired. Despite a growing body of literature addressing the underlying mechanisms of sex dimorphisms in cardiac disease, there remain significant inconsistencies reported in these studies. Given that the development of CHF results from the complex integration of genetic and nongenetic cues, it is not surprising that the elucidation and subsequent identification of molecular mechanisms remains unclear. In this review, key aspects of sex differences in CVD and CHF will be highlighted with an emphasis on some of the unanswered questions regarding these differences. The contention is presented that it becomes critical to reference cellular mechanisms within the context of each sex to better understand these sex dimorphisms.