The new study, published in the journal JAMA Cardiology, shows that blood vessels, including large and small arteries, age significantly faster in women than in men. Researchers said the findings may help improve the approach to treating or testing women for cardiovascular disease.
“Our research not only confirms that women have different biology and physiology than their male counterparts, but also illustrates why it is that women may be more susceptible to developing certain types of cardiovascular disease and at different points in life,” researcher Susan Cheng said as quoted by News-Medical.Net.
Cheng and her colleagues analyzed data from nearly 33,000 patients, ages 5 to 98 years, in different communities across the U.S. They followed the participants for more than 43 years and collected 145,000 blood pressure readings.
The researchers also looked into men and women’s risk of heart attack, heart failure and stroke. Results showed that blood vessels in women work differently compared to men.
Researchers said many women in the study started to show changes in the functions of their blood vessels in the third decade of life. In this period, women become at higher risk of hypertension.
“This means that if we define the hypertension threshold the exact same way, 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,” Cheng explained.
The increase in blood pressure also becomes more frequent in women in their 30s than men of the same age. Despite involving a large population, researchers noted that more studies are required to further understand the differences in blood vessel aging and pressure patterns in women, as well as men.
But the findings may guide doctors in creating new cardiovascular evaluation and therapy tailored specifically for women, the researchers said.