Sex differences in heart: from basics to clinics

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Sex differences exist in the structure and function of human heart. The patterns of ventricular repolarization in normal electrocardiograms (ECG) differ in men and women: men ECG pattern displays higher T-wave amplitude and increased ST angle. Generally, women have longer QT duration because of reduced repolarization reserve, and thus, women are more susceptible for the occurrence of torsades de pointes associated with drugs prolonging ventricular repolarization. Sex differences are also observed in the prevalence, penetrance and symptom severity, and also in the prognosis of cardiovascular disease. Generally, women live longer, have less clinical symptoms of cardiac diseases, and later onset of symptoms than men. Sex hormones also play an important role in regulating ventricular repolarization, suggesting that hormones directly influence various cellular functions and adrenergic regulation. From the clinical perspective, sex-based differences in heart physiology are widely recognized, but in daily practice, cardiac diseases are often underdiagnosed and untreated in the women. The underlying mechanisms of sex differences are, however, poorly understood. Here, we summarize sex-dependent differences in normal cardiac physiology, role of sex hormones, and differences in drug responses. Furthermore, we also discuss the importance of human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes in further understanding the mechanism of differences in women and men.

Original languageEnglish
Article number241
JournalEuropean Journal of Medical Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 9 Nov 2022
Publication typeA2 Review article in a scientific journal


  • Humans
  • Female
  • Male
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells
  • Torsades de Pointes/chemically induced
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones/adverse effects
  • Heart Diseases
  • Electrocardiography

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1


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