I dont know if the mind of a designer picks up things differently than, lets say, a non-designer, but I have never had problems to relate the heart symbol to losing health in the game.
And before your comment, it never crossed my mind that the hearts would make the game more feminine. Really? Just because we have little heart symbols around the game components?
I bet you would like to ban any pinkish colors from the pallete in game components too, because it would be too feminine? hehe
Sorry to pull your leg on this one, it is that I really cannot understand your reasoning for removing the hearts.
I am used to them in Descent