MONDAY, Jan. 6, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- High blood pressure
might be more dangerous for women than men, a new study
As a result, women may need earlier and more aggressive
treatment for the condition, the study authors said.
"The medical community thought that high blood pressure was the
same for both sexes, and treatment was based on that premise," lead
author Dr. Carlos Ferrario, a professor of surgery at Wake Forest
Baptist Medical Center, said in a medical center news release.
"This is the first study to consider sex as an element in the
selection of [drugs to treat high blood pressure] or base the
choice of a specific drug on the various factors accounting for the
elevation in blood pressure."
Although deaths due to heart disease have dropped dramatically
among men over the past three decades, the same is not true for
women, the researchers noted. On the contrary, heart disease is a
leading cause of death among American women, according to the news
The new study was published in the December issue of
Therapeutic Advances in Cardiovascular Disease.
The researchers conducted a series of specialized tests on 100
men and women aged 53 and older with untreated high blood pressure
but no other medical conditions. Tests measured the forces involved
in blood circulation as well as the hormones involved in blood
pressure regulation. Their purpose was to determine if the heart or
the blood vessels were primarily involved in participants' high
Among women and men with the same level of high blood pressure,
the women had 30 percent to 40 percent more vascular disease than
the men, the study found. Significant physiologic differences were
also found in the women's cardiovascular system, including the
types and levels of hormones that regulate blood pressure.
The researchers said these differences influence how
aggressively the condition needs to be treated.
"We need to evaluate new protocols -- what drugs, in what
combination and in what dosage -- to treat women with high blood
pressure," Ferrario said.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more
high blood pressure.