New research suggests women are at a higher risk of dying due to incorrect treatment of cardiovascular disease
Despite many considering heart disease a ‘male’ problem, it is the leading cause of death of women in New Zealand and Australia. Many in the medical community have called for a greater understanding of sex-specific differences when it comes to diagnosis and treatment.
A review published in Nature Medicine has revealed the negative impacts of this misunderstanding. The review found that overwhelmingly, women are more at risk of receiving the wrong treatment because health service professionals fail to spot symptoms or risk factors that are unique to women.
Professor Eva Gerdts, author of the review says “men and women have different biologies, and this results in different types of the same heart diseases. It is about time to recognize these differences.”
Study reveals women’s blood vessels age faster than men’s
The ageing of women’s blood vessels appears to be one of the unique factors that are linked to cardiovascular disease. A recent study by scientists at Smidt Heart Institute discovered new evidence that shows women’s blood vessels age faster than men’s.
Susan Cheng, senior author of the study says that these findings directly contradict what many in the medical community believe. “Many of us in medicine have long believed that women simply ‘catch up’ to men in terms of their cardiovascular health,” says Cheng.
The new research reveals why women may be more susceptible to developing certain types of cardiovascular disease and at different points of life compared to men.
High blood pressure is a key indicator of cardiovascular risk. Cheng and her team gathered data from across the US and analysed blood pressure results, looking for patterns explaining how blood pressure can rise.
What they found was that women showed signs of blood pressure elevation much earlier in life than men. “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,” says Cheng.
The scientists hope this new evidence will persuade health professionals to think differently when it comes to the treatment and study of women and their cardiovascular health.