Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) remain the world's leading cause of death and disability in both men and women, but with different prognostics and outcomes between sexes. Although the burden of CVD is generally related to the conventional risk factors, the relevance of non-traditional risk factors is increasingly being recognized to explain the so-called “residual risk”. Men and women share many similarities regarding classical cardiovascular risk factors but have different disease pathophysiology, clinical presentations, prevalence, and outcomes of CVDs. How sex-specificities regarding the effects of non-traditional risk factors may contribute to the evolution of atherosclerosis and its clinical manifestations in males and females remain largely underanalyzed. The present review summarizes the current knowledge for sex differences in atherosclerotic plaque composition and clinical evolution in association with risk factors, such as inflammation, lipoprotein(a), hemostasis, intraplaque calcification, and depression. We further discuss the potential sex-differential impact of chronic infectious diseases, gut microbiome and, epigenetic gene expression regulation for atherosclerosis and the effect of female-specific disorders in CVD.
Keywords: Non-traditional risk factors, male, female, atherosclerosis, thrombosis, cardiovascular disease, microvascular dysfunction, plaque burden, coronary arteries.