Women seem to have faster aging blood vessels than men, accounts for earlier CV risk

January 20, 2020

Women have been thought to simply ‘catch up’ to men in terms of their cardiovascular risk, according to the Director of Public Health Research, Cedars-Sinai Smidt Heart Institute, Dr. Susan Cheng. However, new research from the Los-Angeles-based institute has found that women’s blood vessels – including both large and small arteries – age at a faster rate than men’s. As the findings “confirm” women have different biology and physiology than their male counterparts, it could help explain why women tend to develop different types of cardiovascular disease earlier in life than men.

Cheng and her research team conducted sex-specific analyses of blood pressure using data from around the country,collected serially over 43 years. These represented nearly 145,000 blood pressure measurements from about 32,830 study participants aged 5 to 98 years old.

Cardiovascular diseases such as a heart attack, heart failure, or a stroke typically begin with having high blood pressure;hence Cedars-Sinai researchers uniquely compared blood pressure levels in women to other women, and men to men.This approach allowed investigators to pinpoint that the progression and evolution of women’s vascular function is very different than for men. Surprisingly, women showed signs of blood pressure elevation much earlier in life than men.

“Our data showed that rates of accelerating blood pressure elevation were significantly higher in women than men, starting earlier in life,” said Cheng, who added that a 30-year old woman with high blood pressure is probably at higher risk for cardiovascular disease than a man with high blood pressure at the same age.

Dr. Christine Albert, founding chair of the newly established Department of Cardiology at the Smidt Heart Institute, said the findings serve as“yet another reminder” to physicians that many aspects of cardiovascular evaluation and treatment need to be tailored specifically for women.

Albert’s most important take: “Women’s heart health experts have a long history of advocating for adequate inclusion of women in research; results from studies performed in men may not be directly extrapolated to women.”

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Category: Health alert

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