High blood pressure differs by gender

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Women with high blood pressure should be treated differently than men with the same condition, according to a study from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

Heart disease is now the leading cause of death in women in the United States, and although male mortality rates for the disease have fallen in the last 20 to 30 years, the same is not true for women. In a study of 100 men and women with untreated high blood pressure, researchers found the mechanisms and hormones responsible for raising blood pressure are different in men than in women. Researchers found women with elevated blood pressure had 30 to 40 percent more vascular disease than their male counterparts with the same blood pressure.

"Our study findings suggest a need to better understand the female sex-specific underpinnings of the hypertensive processes to tailor optimal treatments for this vulnerable population," lead author Carlos Ferrario, MD, was quoted as saying. "We need to evaluate new protocols – what drugs, in what combination and in what dosage – to treat women with high blood pressure."

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