Men are known to be more prone to heart diseases than women. An analysis of incidences of heart attack in men and women have shown that men are prone to heart attacks and strokes post the age of 20 comparing to women who are at a risk of heart attack post menopause. Therefore it was concluded that chances of women suffering from heart attack before menopause are weak while in the case of men, the chances are high most of the time. In women, the combine effect of estrogen and progesterone decreased their chances of having heart attack while in men sex hormones increased the incidences of having a heart attack. Therefore, men are at a higher risk of succumbing to heart attack than women of similar age. In both the cases, sex hormones play an important role.
What are the male sex hormones?
Male sex hormones comprise of testosterones and androgen. Their primary function is to increase male libido and produce sperms.
Effect of male sex hormones on heart
Studies conducted on the effect of these hormones on cardiovascular functions showed that estrogen and testosterones interacted with cholesterol, blood pressure and weight which are the three major causes of heart attack.
- Estrogen -Studies showed that increased level of estrogen is directly linked with increase in the level of low density lipoprotein (LDL) which is also known as the bad cholesterol. Elevation in the level of bad cholesterol aids the progression of atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis narrows down the diameter of the arteries which increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
- Estrogen- Estrogen decreases the level of high density cholesterol called as good cholesterol (HDL). HDL helps in transportation of almost 30 % of cholesterol and triglycerides through water based blood stream. It is also instrumental in removing cholesterol from atheroma and carries it back to the liver. The liver can either throw out this cholesterol or reuse it. This helps to reduce the level of cholesterol in blood and keeps the heart safe. So when there is an increase in the level or estrogen in the circulation, it decreases the level of high density cholesterol. With a drop in the level of HDL, there is excess cholesterol in the blood circulation and the heart becomes more vulnerable to stroke or myocardial infarction.
- Testosterones- Studies have also linked testosterones with obesity. As men age, the level of testosterones in the blood decreases. Decrease in the level of testosterones increases the level of fat accumulation in the blood. This phenomenon becomes more evident as men age. As the person gains weight, the level of cholesterol in their blood increases. This in turn makes the obese people more prone to cardiovascular disorders.
The above observations prove that heart diseases are directly liked to sex hormones in men. A fluctuation in the level of estrogen and testosterones increases the chances of cardiovascular diseases even before men show any external symptoms. This could be the answer to the ‘male disadvantage’ that was related to heart diseases.