Blood flow in heart differs in men and women

Blood flow in men and women's hearts is not the same.
Blood flow in men and women's hearts is not the same.

How your blood flows through your heart may depend on whether you are a man or a woman, new research suggests.

For the study, researchers used a sophisticated imaging technique called 4D flow MRI to examine blood flow and to assess how it influences cardiac performance.

Scans of the heart's main pumping chamber, the left ventricle, were analysed from 20 men and 19 women.

The analysis revealed that kinetic energy, an indicator of energy use, was significantly higher in men. For women, vorticity (a measure of local rotation of fluid) and strain (a measure of left ventricular function) were higher, the investigators found.

Shedding light on cardiac function

"Using the MRI data, we found differences in how the heart contracts in men and women," explained study lead author David Rutkowski. He's a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

"There was greater strain in the left ventricle wall of women and a higher vorticity in the blood volume. We hypothesise that these two things are related," he said.

The findings shed light on cardiac function and may improve researchers' understanding of why the hearts of men and women respond differently to stress and disease, Rutkowski suggested in a news release from the Radiological Society of North America.

In addition, Rutkowski said, "These blood flow metrics would be useful as reference standards because they are derived from healthy people, so we could use these to compare with someone who is unhealthy."

The study was published in the journal Radiology: Cardiothoracic Imaging.

Image credit: iStock

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