Women are more likely than men to experience symptomatic attacks, a higher frequency of recurrences, and significantly higher heart rates during atrial fibrillation.
Reviewing studies conducted in the past, cardiac experts at Rush University Medical Center have found that women are prone to such diseases which increases the risk of stroke.
During atrial fibrillation, the heart's atria, which are two small upper chambers, quiver instead of beating effectively. Since blood isn't pumped completely out of the atria, it may pool and clot.
If pieces of a blood clot in the atria leave the heart and become lodged in an artery in the brain, a stroke results.
In their review, published in Gender Medicine, the researchers point out that women have surpassed men in both prevalence and mortality due to cardiovascular disease in recent years.
"Stroke is one of the most devastating results of cardiovascular disease and atrial fibrillation increases the risk of stroke," said Dr. Annabelle Volgman, medical director of the Heart Center for Women at Rush University Medical Center and principal investigator of the study.
"Women are at higher risk of atrial fibrillation-related stroke than men and are more likely to live with stroke-related disability which can significantly lower quality of life.
"We reviewed past studies addressing gender differences in atrial fibrillation over a 20 year period in order to pinpoint the gender differences for women versus men with atrial fibrillation. As a result, we were able to determine the most rational, safe and effective gender-specific approach to therapy for women," added the cardiologist.
In their study report, the researchers have identified several gender differences for women versus men with atrial fibrillation, and made certain management recommendations.
"For women with atrial fibrillation, these gender differences should always be kept in mind to help prevent strokes and heart failure and improve their quality of life," said Volgman.