the gender perspective of cardiovascular diseases discussed in the Italian National Association of Hospital Cardiologists

Gender medicine delves into the study of how biological differences (determined by sex) and socio-economic and cultural differences (influenced by gender) affect the health and disease states of individuals.

Recognizing the importance of this field, scientific societies emphasize that gender medicine is a pivotal area of focus today for cardiovascular diseases (CVDs). This acknowledgment comes at a time when the gap in gender disparities, particularly in CVDs, is consistent due to various factors. These include the adoption of unhealthy lifestyles by women, the underestimation of female risk categorization, and challenges in early detection and appropriate treatment of CVD in women.

Genetic variations and biological differences are increasingly understood to differentiate cardiovascular risk and the pathogenesis of CVD in women. Indeed, the emergence of gender cardiology, a branch of gender medicine, underscores the significance of studying the variances in how men and women experience and accordingly respond to CVDs. Historically, gender-based differences in heart diseases were stark and were typically male-matters; women were more susceptible to valvular diseases, whereas men were more prone to heart attacks. Although this gap has narrowed, menopause contributes to escalating women’s risk for cardiovascular disease.

In a significant move to address these gender particularities, the first Italian National Day on Gender Cardiology was introduced on December 13th, 2023. The National Association of Hospital Cardiologists (ANMCO) and the “Fondazione per il Tuo Cuore Onlus” inaugurated an info point as an opportunity for women to pose questions to cardiologists on gender cardiology. This initiative was launched with a press conference at the Chamber of Deputies hosted by Hon. Cappellacci, marking a pivotal moment in raising awareness of this delicate new perspective to look at CVDs.

As scientific societies strive to incorporate a gender perspective in medicine, notable efforts are underway such as trials for what concerns women. Currently, the goal is to ensure that the evidence and mechanisms of cardiovascular disease, often modeled on male-specific studies, are accurately applied to women, preventing gender-based penalization in medical treatment and research. Yet, the journey to integrate this new perspective into the broader societal view remains challenging.

It is imperative for women to become informed about cardiovascular risks and for the medical community to proactively engage in gender-specific prevention of CVDs. This collaborative effort can pave the way for a future where medical care and research are truly inclusive, addressing the unique needs and challenges faced by each gender, and not.