His and Hers Health: Why the differences matter as we age

older man and woman sitting back-to-back

It’s no secret that men and women are different, and some of those differences are more than skin deep. As we age, men and women develop different healthcare needs, too. The two genders don’t just experience diseases differently; they may even experience diagnosis and treatment differently.


Take heart health, for example. Thirty-nine percent of males 65 and older suffer from heart disease, compared to just 27 percent of women. Why? Scientists believe it has something to do with men’s predisposition to carry weight around their waist, which is linked to heart disease. 

And even more intriguing, errors in diagnosis mean that women are more likely to survive heart attacks if treated by female doctors. The study found that women admitted to Florida emergency rooms with heart attack symptoms were often ignored or misdiagnosed by male doctors, and therefore less likely to get proper medical attention.



Alarmingly, women who have never smoked may be more likely to get lung cancer than men who have never smoked. In fact, 20 percent of all female lung cancer deaths are women who have never smoked.

And though lung cancer in men and women often responds similarly to traditional chemotherapy treatments, some newer therapies are more effective in women. Why? Research conducted on particular lung cancer drugs like Iressa has found that some of the genetic mutations targeted were more common in women.



Osteoporosis is another example of a disease with distinct gender differences. Women have smaller, thinner bones than men, and they are left unprotected after estrogen levels decline after menopause. As a result, nearly 80 percent of all osteoporosis cases are women. 

Since women are more likely to suffer from osteoporosis, many of the therapies have been tested solely on women, which means that for men, the effectiveness of treatments — or their side effects — aren’t fully understood.

Learn More

Intrigued by the medical differences between men and women? Download our informative PDF to learn more about how gender might impact your healthcare.

The above content is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you have a medical condition. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on our site.

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