When it comes to heart disease, most of the media fixate on the disease in women. The fixation is so relentless and pervasive that most men, I suspect, are more aware of women’s heart disease than men’s. Which would be pretty odd considering that men generally develop the disease about ten years earlier and die of it at a much higher rate at every age. Suppose this was women’s experience instead of men’s. Then suppose the media focused exclusively on men’s heart disease. What would women’s health advocates call that? Answer: A cruel sexism.
A few quotes from Dr. Marianne J. Legato’s book Why Men Die First: How to Lengthen Your Life Span (original hard-cover edition. The book is based on Legato’s belief that “the premature death of men is the most important — and neglected — health issue of our time. …[A]t all ages, men die in greater numbers than women do.”):
Page xii: “Men are more likely to experience the first ravages of coronary artery disease in their mid-thirties, a full 15 or 20 years before women. And twice as many men die of the disease as women.”
Page xii: “One of the most important issues that face us all is the subject of depression: Women are said to suffer from this disease twice as often as men in virtually every country in the world. I think this is because men hide their pain.”
Page 97: “The risk of coronary artery disease is three times higher among men with a diagnosis of depression; interestingly, there is no increased risk for women.”
Page 129: “If I had to focus on one illness that claimed men too early, it would be coronary artery disease.”
Page 133: “The vulnerability of men is further evidenced by the fact that between 70 and 89 percent of sudden cardiac events occur in men.”
Page 136: “As discussed earlier, men are about ten years younger than women when the disease first causes symptoms, and 20 years younger when they have their first heart attack.” [Emphasis by Male Matters.]
Page 203: “In the United States, by age 85 women outnumber men 2.2 to 1, and by their nineties, 3 to 1.” You can thank men’s higher death rate of heart disease and the ten other leading causes of death for those ratios.