Think the gender gap only exists for salaries? Think again — it also relates to women’s heart health. Heart disease has a reputation for being a “man’s disease,” but according to the Mayo Clinic, it is actually the most common cause of death for both women and men in the United States.

A new study from the American Heart Association has been the first to investigate the heart disease gender disparity. Researchers compared men and women with mild blockage of coronary arteries and found that females report poorer health, more anxiety and a more negative outlook.

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According to a press release from the AHA, more women with mild coronary blockage in the arteries reported symptoms of physical impairment and psychosocial distress.

“We were very intrigued by these sex and gender differences — we had not thought they would be so apparent,” senior study author Paula M.C. Mommersteeg Ph.D, said in the release.

Study participants included 523 non-obstructive coronary artery disease patients between the ages of 52 and 70, who were all compared to 1,347 people from the general population. They all answered questionnaires about physical and mental health, in addition to psychological well-being.

To further understand how men and women respond to coronary disease, researchers also used the survey to understand the personality profiles of participants, which, according to the release, included the degree of negative or positive outlook and level of social inhibition.

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If someone has non-obstructive coronary artery disease, they experience restricted flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart. This can lead to increased risk of heart attack and other major heart problems, as well as death.

Source: Mommersteeg PMC, Arts L, Zijlstra W, Widdershoven JW, Aarnoudse W, Denollet J. Impaired Health Status, Psychological Distress, and Personality in Women and Men With Nonobstructive Coronary Artery Disease. Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes. 2017.

See Also:

Women With Long Work Hours Could Face Significant Risk Of Cancer, Heart Disease

Some Doctors Still Consider Heart Disease A 'Man's Issue,' Fail To Track Risk In Women